Local, state, and federal officials, schools, businesses, clergy, agency leaders, AmeriCorps members, and citizens from the community and surrounding area gathered to celebrate History Month of Blacks on Sunday, February 20 at Kewanee First Congregational Church.
The special event was an uplifting experience and can still be viewed in line.
The theme of the program was “Keep the Dream Alive”. Resonating with the powerful speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in 1963 for people of all races to come together, continue to promote change and move forward in unity and peace.
The audience gathered and sang the Negro national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Reverend Marshall Jones gave information on Carter G. Woodson and the history of black history. A video from the Watchmojo.com website provided more details about the civil rights movement.
Mayor Gary Moore, State Rep. Dan Swanson, and Constituent Advocate Coburn Gillies representing Congresswoman Cheri Bustos all expressed their appreciation for participating in this event and the positive impact of this annual program. on the community. They also discussed the importance of continuing to raise awareness of the valuable contributions of African Americans to our country, such as those in politics, music, literature, science and the arts.
The young people were encouraged to continue to participate and support the programs because one day they will have to keep the dream alive.
Matthew Ponce and Kirby Galvezo, students at Wethersfield High School under Mrs. Stephanie Hagaman, sang a spirited duet, “Chariot’s Comin’!”
The 2021 Dr. Ronald Thompson Memorial Scholarship recipients, Melcon Dejesus Jr. and Jasira Stevenson, have been recognized. Youth at House of Prayer Church in Kewanee sang “My God Is Awesome” and their pastor, Alvis LaFlora, spoke about some experiences that impacted his life growing up in early Arkansas. from the 1960s. He also explained how we are all bigger than the problems or circumstances in our lives, and how God is there to help us.
The public was invited to the Fellowship Hall for refreshments and to view the African American Mop Doll, special coin collections, and military exhibits presented by Anita Blanks.
The program committee consisted of Marshall Jones, Anita Blanks, William Jordan and Etta LaFlora. Each year, AmeriCorps members participate in the program. Members in attendance were Alvin Cole who serves at Henry County Senior Citizens and Esmeralda Parades who serves as a tutor for the Step Ladder tutoring program.
The program ended with everyone singing “We Shall Overcome”.
Residents are also encouraged to visit the displays at the Kewanee Public Library of African-American statues of famous individuals and at the Irving School, the display of pop bottle dolls. Thank you for another successful program and continued support. We look forward to next year as we all continue to learn together.