This is the Fortieth Anniversary year of celebrating Black History at ABC. I’m not aware of any other church with roots in a traditionally White denomination that does this. Newcomers may wonder why it’s so important to us. I’d like to share four reasons with you.
(1) Black History was a banner establishing ABC’s new direction forward. During the 1960s, the neighborhood around ABC changed dramatically, with the Black population rapidly increasing. In response the church made a conscious decision to be more like its community by becoming integrated. By God’s grace, strong Black families began attending and joined the congregation. A Black History Committee emerged and developed a Celebration that would demonstrate this commitment annually.
(2) Black History has been important to Black members of the ABC family who needed to understand and articulate their roots in the Nation’s journey. A great deal of their history had been purposely obscured and distorted in popular idealizations of America. Some movements in the 1970s were uncovering lost insights into the awfulness of slavery, and they were also publicizing overlooked accomplishments of Black men and women of the past and the present. The Celebration was ABC’s way of participating in this Black awakening.
(3) Black History has been also important to White members of the ABC family who had inherited a willful ignorance about the dark side of American history. They needed to educate themselves about historical facts that had been left out of their elementary schoolbooks. And they had to learn to accept the fact that their families had enjoyed privileges in life at the expense of families of color. It was important to hear these truths repeatedly — annually — to begin to think in a way that was more humble and inclusive.
(4) Black History is important in 2024 because there are new attacks on discussing and teaching the historical facts under the false flag of CRT (“Critical Race Theory”). All over the country, there are activists making passionate speeches before public school boards denouncing any teaching about America’s dark journey through slavery, segregation and the continuing disparity of opportunities for people of different racial backgrounds. They might just as easily appear at our next Black History Celebration to boycott the event, because they don’t want Americans to know about Black History.
This kind of backlash makes it clear why in 2024, as much as in 1984, we need to invite everybody in our community to come to the Celebration. We need to keep making “Good Trouble.”
– – Pastor George Van Alstine