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Celebrating History

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By Calen McKinney

 

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It impacts everyone, he said, as he prays that God watch over us.

"We should never forget where we come from, Lord," the Rev. Walter Davis prays.

"We want to see where we're going Lord."

Leading the group in prayer at the annual Black History Month program, Davis says he believes the term black history is inaccurate.

"It's just history," he said. A chorus of "amen" follows.

Davis prayed in thanks of those who fight for equality.

"Yes, it ain't like it used to be," he said," but we know it can be better."

Taylor County Civic League sponsored Sunday's program, which is an annual event geared toward celebrating equality.

Sandra Shively spoke about how the month of February became Black History Month. The celebration began in the 1920s as Negro History Week. She said the late Carter G. Woodson began the week because he found textbooks ignored or misrepresented black history.

The week eventually became a month-long celebration. February was chosen in honor of the birthdays of Frederick Douglas, Booker Washington and other black leaders.

The civic league is one several groups in Taylor County geared toward promoting equality.

Sam Wickliffe, president of the civic league, said the group reaches out to those in the community who are less fortunate.

The group raises money, such as the nearly $600 collected during an offering at Sunday's service, to help those in need.

Wickliffe says the group has also offered scholarships, honored people for their work in the community and hosts various events. The group also hosts annual events in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy.

Begun in the 1980s, the civic league has about 20 members. Wickliffe says the club has open enrollment to allow those interested to join.

The group meets the third Monday of every other month, he said. The next meeting is in April.

Campbellsville Ecumenical Ministerial Alliance also works to organize events to honor King's dream of racial equality.

The Rev. James T. Washington III has been president for five years. He says the group also allows a venue for churches comprised of mainly black congregations to gather and talk. Like the civic league, Washington said the group works to help those in need.

The alliance boasts about 15 members and was begun in 1992. Washington said the group meets every quarter. The next meeting is Saturday, March 2, at 10 a.m. at Fannie Chapel CME Church.

The group began as the Black Ministerial Alliance, Washington said. The name was changed after members felt another was more appropriate, since one of the churches associated with the group boasted a black congregation and white pastor.

Washington said the alliance is open to those of all races. Being a member of the clergy is required for membership.

Greater Campbellsville United is also geared toward bringing those of different races together.

Director Wanda Washington says the group talks to children, hosts a diversity festival, hosts musical events and recognizes people in the community for performing good work.

"Our main focus is equality and opportunities across all lines," she said.

GCU hosts an annual African American Driving Tour to highlight historical sites in Taylor County.

Wanda Washington said GCU supports Campbellsville University's Dialogue on Race and will do whatever it can to help people promote themselves.

GCU began 11 years ago and boasts about 20 members. The group meets the third Monday of every month at 5 p.m. in CU's Technology Training Center.

But despite the work of the three groups, Wickliffe and the Washingtons agree that racial prejudice still exists today.

"Maybe not on the scale it was, but it still exists," Wickliffe said.

He says he believes the reason why is simple.

"Because we don't know the man above. I think it's the key to it," he said. "I believe, to me, that it will exist till he comes back."

Wickliffe said Jesus didn't die on the cross for one race of people.

"He went there for everyone."

James Washington said his family includes some racially mixed marriages. Some people, he said, are accepting of that while others aren't.

He said he believes if two people find love and happiness together but happen to be different races, that's OK.

"I believe God blesses them," he said. "Too many people live on the old side of the hill.

"If my eyes were closed, I would be just as satisfied to get a drink of water from a black woman as a white woman," he said.

Wanda Washington says prejudice, for some, is human nature. She said a person's environment can determine whether they will harbor some prejudices. Some people, she said, have prejudices toward people of their own race.

Wickliffe said he believes the way to rid society of racism is also simple.

"Agape love. We got to show more love," he said. "We have to honor the Lord by loving our neighbor ... All of us must learn how to live with one another."

Wanda Washington says a good way to eliminate racism is to simply treat others as we would want to be treated.

"If we continue to treat people the way we want to be treated ... " she said. "Listen to what people have to say. Be a little nicer."

James Washington said he believes people should accept others for who they are, not by the color of their skin.

"That would be a great step forward to stomping out racism."