Black History Month celebrations continue

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'Don't let anybody tell you that our history is not important.'

By Calen McKinney



The purpose was simple - to remember where they have been and focus on where they are going.

As the familiar song "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" plays, they take each other's hands and pray together.

Earlier, one by one, members of the congregation went to the podium and spoke about the many accomplishments made by prominent black leaders.

Taylor County Civic League hosted its annual Black History Month celebration on Sunday to continue the community's recognition of the month.

Sam Wickliffe, president of the civic league, said he believes God has shown people that they must be kind to one another, no matter the color of their skin.

Campbellsville residents Margaret Stewart and Samuel Buchanan were honored during the service for their support and service to their community as a historian and mortician, respectively.

To close the service, minister Pamela Young Buford said black history should be remembered 365 days of the year, not just the 28 days of each February.

"Don't let anybody tell you that our history is not important," she said.

"Teach your grandchildren to appreciate their history and how to preserve it," Buford said. "Take notes and pass it on, generation to generation."

Wickliffe said on Tuesday that the civic league hosts a service each February to honor black history in an effort to keep it alive.

Sunday's service was the community's third Black History Month event. Campbellsville University hosted an event earlier in the month and will host another on Monday. Read more about that event in the sidebar to this story.

Greater Campbellsville United hosted an event in conjunction with Taylor County Public Library earlier in the month. GCU Executive Director Wanda Washington said her organization hosted a Black History event a couple years ago. She said library officials approached her about having one this year, and they all pitched in to plan it.

Wickliffe and Washington say they believe it's important to keep black history alive and to make sure young people today know about the struggle for equality.

They also say they believe society has made progress for equality amongst all people.

"Some strides have been made, but there's still a long way to go," Wickliffe said.

He said some people don't have the Lord in their hearts, and that might prevent them from truly embracing equality.

"The Lord always will be the one that makes the difference."

In Campbellsville, Wickliffe said, thoughts as to whether people of different races are treated equally can vary from person to person.

"I know we've made some gains," he said. "We are living in a different time. We are all in this together."

Washington said she believes there are still some people today who aren't treated the same as everyone else.

"I most definitely know that we're not equal on a lot of levels," she said.

Black females might not receive the same respect as their white counterparts, Washington said, and they might face higher expectations in the workplace. And she believes Hispanic people don't always receive the respect they deserve.

In Campbellsville, she said, she believes those of different races seem to tolerate one another to keep peace.

"But they're not always accepted," she said.

Washington said she believes racism is still alive today.

"Always will be," she said. "Known or unknown."

Washington said schools in Campbellsville integrated the year after she graduated, which showed an effort to have people come together, regardless of race.

"But are we there yet? No. I don't think we'll ever see it in our lifetime."

One of the most important reasons to continue having events to honor Black History Month, Wickliffe said, is so young people can remember the past. With those who are involved with black history activities getting older, he said, it will soon be up to young people to continue them.

"The most important thing is, you know, the young people, to get this across to them. If we get them [involved], it will never die.

"Hopefully one day we all may be able to do a much better job of being able to get along with one another," Wickliffe said.

Washington said she believes the strive for equality will continue in the community, but once those who experienced inequality in their lives die, the fight won't be as strong.

"No one that lived in that era will be around," she said.

Nevertheless, Washington said, it's still paramount that the struggle for equality keep going and history not be forgotten.

"Your history is your foundation," she said. "We all have a history, so it's important."


If You Go

The community's Black History Month events will continue on Monday.

Campbellsville University will host Dr. Gerald Smith, associate professor of African-American history and the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Kentucky, at 5 p.m. in the Banquet Hall of the Badgett Academic Support Center. Smith will speak as part of a Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy event.

"Dr. Smith is a foremost authority on the African American experience in Kentucky and beyond," Dr. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president.

"Black History is really American history. African Americans have made innumerable contributions to the advancement and progress of our nation and world."

Smith, a native of Lexington, has served as pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lexington since 2011. His address is free and open to the public.

The KHIPP event on Monday is CU's second event in honor of Black History Month. Dr. David Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention and former pastor of First Baptist Church in Campbellsville, spoke during CU's chapel service on Feb. 12.