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February 3, 2012 > Newark church celebrates African-American History Month

Newark church celebrates African-American History Month

By Miriam G. Mazliach

It's an exciting time for the congregation of Family Bible Fellowship. Church volunteers and Sr. Pastor Horacio Jones have organized a month-long series of Sunday events during February in recognition of African-American History Month. All programs are free of charge and open to the entire community. Formerly located in Fremont for 17 years, the Christian church has found a home in Newark these past seven years.

Pastor Jones, a member of the Tri-Cities Community Development Center, explains that the idea for the series of programs initially evolved when he was asked by the Ethnic Services Director of Alameda County Health Care Services to develop training materials on cultural awareness. "In working with the department, my focus was on training providers, county employees and the faith community. A key component was exploring the development of faith in the African-American community and addressing the stigma and disparity in the treatment and care of mental health consumers (clients)," he adds.

"During the training session, many adults were in tears because of what they had forgotten" [about faith], says Pastor Jones. "This is very personal; spirituality is a key component to people in their culture."

This process of delving into additional historical research led Pastor Jones to the planning of the church's series of February programs. In particular, the goal is to address the many areas of disparity in the African-American community, specifically educational disparity in the Tri-cities area. Pastor Jones says, "This situation is reflected in lower graduation rates, and higher numbers of discipline problems and truancy,"

To help shed light on those areas, he hopes that the positive messages to be heard during the February programs will encourage young people to pursue their dreams and strive for more. He poses the questions, "What can we do together? How can we collaborate as school districts, communities of faith and as overall communities to reduce these disparities?"

The intent of these programs held during Sunday services on February 5, 12, 19 and 26, is to create an awareness of the contributions by African-Americans. Among those expected to attend are: Charles B. Reed, Chancellor of the California State University, local School Superintendents, and Captain Leslie Williams, a 93-year old Tuskegee Airman.

Schedule of Events:

Sunday, February 5 (10:45 a.m.):
"Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes, "A Tribute to African-American Women: Nobody Knows, and More Than Just a Black Woman." Presented by Faith & Joy McClanahan.

Sunday, February 12 (10:45 a.m.):
Spoken word poetry, drama, dance, focusing on young adults. "Poetry seasoned with culture," as presented by Benjamin Turner.

Sunday, February 19 (10:45 a.m.):
Dramatic presentation, "From the Motherland to the Promised Land", a one-woman show by Sherre Bishop of Nashville, Tennessee.

Also, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed will visit as part of the CSU "Super Sunday" campaign, in an effort to increase African-American student awareness and interest in their college system. This is all part of the church's goal to decrease the achievement gap.

Sunday, February 26: (A two part program- 10:45 a.m. and a special "interactive tour" at 1:30 p.m.)
A rendition of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech by Brandon Hughes. Performance by J'on Harris & Voices, a multi-cultural choir.

At 1:30 p.m., there will be a chance to re-trace African-American history "From Slave Ships to the White House." Experienced via a "walking tour" inside the large, church facility with booths, interactive displays, artifacts, speakers, music, entertainment and a special talk by Captain Leslie Williams, age 93, one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

"It is part of a comprehensive effort and collaboration with our educational communities to positively impact and influence the advancement of African-Americans," remarks Pastor Jones. "I hope the community can participate and enjoy the efforts of our incredible team of church volunteers."

African American History Month
Sunday, February 5, February 12, February 19 and February 26 at 10:45 a.m.
Additional "Walk through History" program on February 26 at 1:30 p.m.
Family Bible Fellowship
37620 Filbert Street, Newark
(510) 505-1735
Open to the entire community

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