Well, ABC finally made the front page of a local online newspaper, Pasadena Now. It’s not exactly what we had in mind, but it’s all good. After the protestors’ interruption, the speaker, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, went on to bring an inspiring message on the topic of “Can we make a difference?” Her answer was a resounding Yes! (Listen here)

I was proud of our choir, enhanced by some guest musicians, for expressing the joy of our Christian faith through great gospel music. I was proud of our event chairperson, Paula DeVaughn, for defusing the atmosphere by leading us in singing “We Shall Overcome.” I was proud that the overall event accomplished its purpose of glorifying God through the history of African-Americans in our country.

Even our protesters are part of that history. They were speaking out against the racial profiling and overuse of force that we all know is done by some police officers. I think they’ve made a mistake in focusing their anger on the one person in L.A. County law enforcement who is herself African-American, but speaking out against systemic injustice is a goal we share with them.

We agree that the lives of people of color are often not respected in our society, and we stand with the group that affirms this in their name. In fact, this photo was taken after an ABC worship service in the summer of 2015, when we felt we had to respond to the shooting of nine people in a Charlotte NC African-American church by a young white supremacist.. But I have watched as the local Pasadena leadership of the movement has taken the group in a more and more radical and divisive direction. I don’t think they helped their cause on Sunday by disrupting a spiritual worship service inside a church sanctuary.

However, I was fascinated to watch the protesters, intentionally scattered throughout the congregation during the earlier part of the service, before the speaker was introduced. They participated in the worship, some of them singing with the choir’s music. I felt that we were all one during those moments. This makes me hopeful that we can reach out and develop an understanding that leads to genuine and lasting change in the way police relate to people of minority races.

In the end, people had a chance to express themselves, no one was hurt or arrested, and the praise, worship and proclamation continued to God’s glory. And the food and fellowship afterward went on and on.

Thanks to a great Committee!

— Pastor George Van Alstine

Black History Celebration Acknowledgements:

Thanks to the planning committee: Paula DeVaughn (Chair), Roland Wiley (Secretary), Claudia Wiley (Treasurer), Carol Wagner, Tommie Horn, Juanita DeVaughn, Liz Jones, Brenda Curl. Pastor George Van Alstine

Thanks to donors and sponsors: Super King Market, Stater Brothers Market, Starbucks Coffee Co., James and Barbara Lee, Sameeha Sudan, Phyllis Blackwood-Henderson.

Thanks to musicians supporting the ABC Choir: Soloists Candace Lacy, Gloria Wade, Allisonne Crawford, Robert DeVaughn; Instrumentalists Terren Turrentine, Israel Lacy, Romel Veal, Freddie Moffet, Lawrence Tamez; thanks to Onochie Chukurah, his drummers and dancers.

Thanks to Loren Roberts (music, lighting, sound engineering), Michael O’Neal-Petterson and Leon White (sound), Zoe O’Neal-Petterson (visual projection), Ty Garrison and Eileen Pino (photography), Rahila Ibrahim (raffle ticket sales), Stan Casper (caterer), Debra Blake and the Young Ambassadors (food service), Elton Blake, Fred Shotlow, Leon Barinaga, Milo Crago, Dale McCall, Don Winbush (facilities and parking support), Felita Kealing and Kathy Cady (program participants).