Dear friends, Since 1976, February has been named, “Black History Month”. Carter Godwin Woodson (December 19, 1875 – April 3, 1950) was an American historian, author, journalist, and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. He was one of the first scholars to study African-American history and the originator of Black History Month.
His hope was to commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, Woodson first established Black History Week which was to begin on Feb. 12, 1926. Later, a second week was set aside to coincide with the birthday of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass until, 1976, on the 50th anniversary of its founding – the whole month was granted for celebration of the achievements of persons of African descent.
Someone who often gets overlooked during Black History month is Richard Robert Wright, Sr. Born into slavery in 1855 in Dalton, Georgia, he attended Storrs College. When a visiting retired Union General, Oliver Otis Howard, asked Wright’s class what message he should take back to the North, Wright responded, “Sir, tell them we are rising.” This phrase later inspired John Greenleaf Whittier’s famous poem of 1869, “Howard at Atlanta”. The next to last stanza has these words:
O black boy of Atlanta
But half was spoken:
The slave’s chainand the master’s
Alike are broken.
The one curse of the races
Held both in tether:
They are rising, – all are rising,
The black and white together!
Storrs College eventually became Atlanta University and Wright was valedictorian of AU’s first graduating class. He served in the military and was the first African American US Army paymaster.From 1891 to 1921, Wright served as the first president of the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth, in Savannah, Georgia. During his tenure, enrollment increased from 8 to 400 students.
In 1921, after moving to Philadelphia, Wright decided to open a bank. He went back to college at age 67 and upon receipt of his degree, created and led Philadelphia’s Citizens and Southern Bank and Trust Company. It was the only African-American-owned bank in the North at that time and the first African-American trust company. He also founded the first African-American banking association. Under amazing leadership, his Association withstood the Great Depression.
He and his wife, Elizabeth had 9 children, and had a son and grand-daughter who both earned PhDs. Although Wright was active in civil rights, he felt his most memorable contribution was to have Februray 1st commemorated in remembrance of President Lincoln’s signing, in 1865, of the 13th amendment which was meant to free all enslaved persons.
As part of our celebration of Black History Month at FCC, we will take a worship service to remember and give thanks for the tradition of African Spirituals. Are there any aspiring poets or musicians out there who would like to write a poem or song for February 16, commemorating an event in the life of an African American whose story needs to be told? We welcome contributions!
Blessings, Rev. Deb
Lectionary Readings and Sermons for February 2020
February 2 – Sacrament of Communion
Scripture Readings: Micah 6:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Sermon: “On Not Taking Ourselves Too Seriously”
February 9 – Annual Meeting
Scripture Readings: Psalm 112:1-9 and Matthew 5: 13-16
Sermon: “Restoring Beauty”
February 16 – Spirituals Sunday
Scripture Reading: Psalm 22
Sermon: “Speaking from the Heart”
February 23 – Church Vocations Sunday
Scripture Readings: Matthew 13:44-46
Sermon: “Church Vocations”