Gospel service celebrates African-American History Month
Urban jazz harmonicist Frederic Yonnet performs Feb. 15 during the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Gospel Services Black History Month celebration at Memorial Chapel on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base.

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - With song and praise, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Gospel Service celebrated African-American History Month Feb. 15 at Memorial Chapel on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base with the presentation "the black church and civil rights."

During his sermon, Rev. Leonard R. Smith, pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Arlington, Va., explained the civil rights movement and black church go hand-in-hand.

"The reality is, they all came together because they believed that if they could stand together a difference could be made," he said.

Smith said it wasn't just well-known leaders like Martin Luther King who sparked the civil rights movement. Religious leaders across America whose contributions have gone largely unknown by history, were invaluable to the movement, he noted.

Later this year the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law was signed by President Lyndon Johnson of July 2, 1964 and outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities. It also ended the unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, workplaces, and in facilities that served the general public.

Smith said perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the civil rights movement was that it dismantled the "awful atrocity that was called apartheid in America, and thank God it dismantled that system, and we proclaim the glory and creed that we are free at last," he noted. "I'm convinced that the civil rights movement was the greatest and most influential movement of social reform of the 20th century."

The celebration also included a presentation by the Rough Riders Junior Buffalo soldiers of America Northern Virginia Chapter. Buffalo soldiers is the name given to six African-American cavalry regiments formed after the Civil War. Members of the Gospel Service's youth ministry also portrayed freedom riders who rode buses into the segregated south in 1961.

"It's impossible to move forward unless you know where you came from," said Chap. (Navy Lt.) Devon Foster, pastor of the Gospel Service.

Keeper of the Community Awards were presented to Fisayo Quadri, a senior at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Silver Spring, Md., Rev. Dr. Perry A. Smith III, a Freedom Rider in 1961; Carlton Kent, who served as the 16th sergeant major of the Marine Corps; and Army Maj. Gen. (Dr.) Nadja West, who is the Joint Staff surgeon at the Pentagon. The awards were established in 2006 and are given to individuals and organizations that impact the community by their deeds, service and achievements.

Special presentations were made to Edgar A. Brookins, who chaired the Gospel Service's African-American History Month program for two decades, and Gospel Service volunteer Machelle Reynolds were presented with the first Edgar A. Brookins Keeper of the Community Award.

Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music, featuring urban jazz harmonicist Frederic Yonnet performed a number of musical selections throughout the presentation.

Page last updated Fri February 21st, 2014 at 00:00