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Preserving Our Heritage: Embracing Hope For the Future

By Megan Davis
The Truth Contributor

If you’ve lived long enough to experience the Civil Rights Movement, life in America today may feel awfully familiar. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, we are witnessing increasing instances of discrimination, not just in the U.S., but in our own backyard here in Toledo.

The Civil Rights Act, which also prohibits racial segregation in schools, employment, voter applications and public accommodations, looks great on paper, yet today, the practices of many schools and employers directly violate the rights of African Americans on a regular basis to the point where it is the new normal.

We don’t have to rewind our clocks or review history books to understand the experience of racial discrimination, since the culture of hate and inequity has been revived in our communities.

Barack Obama’s blemish-free presidency was replaced with a tarnished soul whose ideals are an interpretation of what many national leaders live by and practice. The dehumanization of Black Folks has resurfaced.

We have seen far too many cases like the deaths Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and Mike Brown. We have lamented over wrongful youth incarcerations like Kalief Browder and Cyntoia Brown. We know that students of color like those at The Toledo School for the Arts have been disproportionately disciplined and that the pipeline to prison exists in our schools.

Several Toledoans have witnessed, first-hand, the racist culture in the workplace such as Marcus Boyd and Derrick Brooks, supervisors at the local General Motors plant who now have lawsuits against the company for fostering hate.

Then we cringed at the site of New Jersey wrestler Andrew Johnson, whose dreadlocks were cut off right before a match. We remember when Malachi Wattley was forced out of Central Catholic High School because they didn’t respect his Rastafarian culture wherein his beloved dreadlocks were birthed. This type of institutionalized discrimination is overt and exhausting.

How can one have hope when all around they see the adversity people of color are enduring on every side? Where are the people who have overcome and how did they manage to be true to themselves while building successful careers and businesses? How is the African-American community addressing these issues and encouraging people through them? 

The black church has traditionally been the place of refuge and a beacon of light in times like these. Braden United Methodist Church, a landmark in the community for 110 years, is continuing the tradition of activism and outreach by hosting Black History Month events that will focus on preserving African-American heritage while demonstrating ways to embrace the great hope for change in the community for the future.

Beginning with the First Sunday, February 3rd at 10:30 AM, the morning worship will feature African-American hymns and spirituals. In addition, Holy Communion will take place where all are welcomed to the table.

The second Sunday, February 10, the church will be honoring Braden members who are pioneers in the local community, having  served in multiple capacities, from starting and supporting  educational programs to serving in the political arena and more. Following service, there will be a Teen Summit ( ages 13-18) with a discussion on being true to yourself while facing bullying from peers and being targeted in school by teachers.

On the third Sunday, February 17, there will be a Baptism service by immersion, representing the death, burial and resurrection of Christ,  a tradition of renewal and rebirthing that was the foundation of faith for our ancestors. On the fourth Sunday, February 24, all are welcomed to worship with us in African attire as we close  Black History Month with praise for perseverance!

Each Sunday morning at 9:30 AM, the Christian Education department will have a round table on African-American devotions designed to dig deeper into the history, the challenges of slaves and civil rights leaders and the hope found in scripture that speaks to adversities we face. During morning worship, younger children ages five-12 years of age will be learning about being created in God’s image and learning how to refute the negative ideals others may have of them.

On Friday, February 22 at 6:00 PM, the Annual Soul Food Potluck will focus on Preserving our HAIRitage, addressing discrimination policies in the workplace, schools and other organizations. There will be a panel with local guests that have experienced this type of discrimination and will share their stories. To learn more about the  Black History Month programs at Braden visit www.BradenUMC.org, or call (419) 386-2700. The church is located at 4725 Dorr St. Toledo, OH 43615. Rev. Cecil J. Fitzgerald Thompson, Pastor.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/30/19 14:14:14 -0500.



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