Louisville pastor encourages people to build self-esteem

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CU events celebrate Black History Month.


Joan C. McKinney

Campbellsville University

The erosion of African-Americans' confidence was the "greatest crime" against them, Dr. Kevin W. Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Louisville, who is also president of Simmons College of Kentucky, told those attending Campbellsville University's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Service on Jan. 19.

King used education for the common good, Cosby said. He quoted three facts of education: fascination, when "the almighty puts something in all children" when they want to know and explore; regimentation, when children "get it," and application, when people take fascination and regimentation and "use it."

He said King was 39 years old when he died, 26 when he was involved in bus boycotts and 28 when he was Time magazine's "Man of the Year." Prior to King, the "focus was on skin," he said.

"Education helps take off the focus on skin and focuses on kin," Cosby said. "We all are kin to each other, because God is our father."

He quoted Martin Luther King who said his daughter questioned why she couldn't go to an amusement park because of her color.

"The clouds of inferiority flow in her mental status," King said in his letter from the Birmingham Jail.

This lack of self-esteem has been a belief system of America that reinforced the minds of black people that they were inferior.

Cosby said President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and as great as it was, believed in a nation of white people.

"Frederick Douglass helped humanize Lincoln," he said.

Douglass caused Lincoln to shift his "paradigm."

"The best thing that African-Americans can do to help themselves is to elevate all the myths about them," Cosby said. He said black people need to learn how to "ride the horses," go to classes, study English and Shakespeare and learn to mop and not just learn how to shoot a gun.

"That's what college is about," Cosby said. "It gives all people an opportunity to 'ride the horses,'" he said. "No one race has a monopoly on intelligence," he said.

"Show me an Abraham Lincoln, and I can show you a Frederick Douglass. Show me a John F. Kennedy, and I can show you a Martin Luther King. Show me a Ronald Reagan, and I can show you a Barack Obama.

"Bring me a horse, and I will get up on it," he said. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he quoted from Philippians 4:13.

Campbellsville University has planned two upcoming events celebrating Black History Month.

Dr. Johnnie Clark, a member of CU's Board of Trustees and former pastor of Burnett Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, spoke on Wednesday, Feb. 2 during the university's regular weekly chapel service in Ransdell Chapel.

Nashville dramatist Sherre Miller Bishop will perform "From the Motherland to the Promised Land" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, also in Ransdell Chapel.

"Campbellsville University is celebrating [Black] History Month with two excellent events," John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, said.

"Dr. Johnnie Clark has a powerful testimony and life story to share with those attending our Feb. 2 chapel service. His life of service to the Lord and in community leadership is evidence of a true Christian servant leader.

"The presentation by Sherre Miller Bishop is a powerful dramatic monologue on the black experience in this country. Both events are well worth the time of the general public and CU faculty, staff and students."

Clark, a resident of Louisville, is an 11-year member of the CU Board of Trustees, and was the first African-American to join the CU Board of Trustees. He received an Honorary Alumnus award from Campbellsville University in 2010.