BRAWLEY — It was a night of gospel music, prayer and overall joy and celebration Friday at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church during the church’s Black History Month Musical.
In fact, The Imperial Valley/Yuma Area Mass Choir sang so intensely, that their singing could be heard from two blocks away.
“This is special,” said the Rev. James Addison, former president of the Imperial Valley/Yuma Ministerial Alliance.
“This is our night to (celebrate) Black History Month and tonight we are doing in it through music — collectively,” he said.
For Addison, to gather together and commemorate what past African-American generations did to fight racism is one of the main reasons to celebrate Black History Month.
It wasn’t that long ago that racism was rampant in places like Louisiana, he said.
Addison can still remember a time when he sat in the back of the bus, or went into restaurants through the back door.
“I’ve seen all that,” he said.
Now, after much work of the African-American community, there has been a positive change, he said, “and all that the young people have to do is take advantage of it.”
Still, “the real work was done in the past for those of today,” he said, and the generations of the past should be remembered.
But Black History Month and this church’s musical were also a way to commemorate “the fellowship between all the churches,” said Rev. Joe Conner, president of the Ministerial Alliance.
Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal and non-denominational churches are invited to come together, he said.
“We could have been anywhere, but thank God we are here,” said Addison after the invocation. Meanwhile music played in the background.
During Addison’s brief speech, several expressions of “amen” and “praise the Lord” were heard among the dozens of attendees.
“I just want everybody to let loose,” said Addison toward the end of his message, and the congregation did, with claps and cheers as the choir stood up and began singing.
Black History Month is an opportunity “to see the reflection of our past,” said Gwen Sanders, from Oceanside, who was attending the celebration for the first time.
Aside from congregating to restore the community, Sanders also suggested that remembering past generations is an important aspect of Black History Month.
As she said, “Only by knowing our past we can go on and improve our future.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or email@example.com