Although no diocesanwide commemoration is planned, many
African-American Catholics in the Oakland diocese are taking the time
to remember and celebrate the contributions that black Americans and people
of African descent have made in U.S. history and culture.
“Glory, Honor and Praise: What We Inherited,” is the theme
of this year’s Black History Month celebration at St. Benedict Parish
in Oakland. The parish will host a two-day program on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.
and Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.
Participants will focus on what it was like for their ancestors when they
called on God for strength. Questions such as “Is this spiritual
tradition still being passed down to our children?” “Should
it be?” and what is it like for Black people today when they “call
on God for strength?” will be examined and discussed.
Participants will consist predominately of youth and young adults being
assisted and directed by seasoned mentors. The gathering will give youth
and adults the opportunity to experience and demonstrate their ancestor’s
way of glorifying, honoring, and praising God.
The parish’s own Julie Hadnot and Dionne Cola are guest speakers.
The program also includes praise dancers prepared by Ariana Catherine,
youth minister at St. Benedict, and guest praise dancers from Carla Service
Dance-A-Vision will perform.
Music, chosen by choir director Leonard Pete, will reflect the rich history
of Gospel music, with selections of music that inspires, uplifts and motivates.
Invited youth and young adults will speak, perform spoken word, sing or
a combination of either that reflects the “Glory, Honor and Praise”
Meanwhile St. Columba Parish in the northern part of the city will host
its annual African American Celebrations with the theme, “Wouldn’t
Take Nothin’ for My Journey Now.” The celebration, now in
its 30th year, began on Jan. 15 with reflections from “guest preacher”
Social Service Sister Eva Marie Lumas. The program will continue with
guest speakers and other events each Sunday at the 10:30 a.m. Mass to
Feb. 19. All are invited to “come and be blessed.” For updated
information contact the parish at 510-654-7600 or visit www.stcolumba-oak.com.
Black History Month can be traced back to 1915 when Carter G. Woodson,
a Harvard-trained historian, and Jesse Moorland, a prominent preacher,
founded an organization called the Association for the Study of Negro
Life and History that searched for and shone a light on the achievements
of black Americans and people of African descent. In 1926, the organization
sponsored a national Negro History week and chose the second week of February
for the commemoration because the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick
Douglass occurred during that week. In the decades that followed, word
about the Negro History Week and the inspiration and pride it fostered
spread to cities across the country. By the 1960s the commemoration of
Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month.
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