SNOW HILL COMMUNITY — The congregation of the Snow Hill Missionary Baptist Church decided to celebrate Black History Month in a manner a little differently than in the past. In an attempt to recognize the contributions of the many African-American individuals who have contributed to American culture today, the church has decided to honor the descendants of individuals who helped to move the oppressed from slavery to their proper place in society.
“What we are attempting to do is, through God’s leadership, we are lifting up the descendants that are here among us that have family that were instrumental in making needed changes that have and are affecting the lives of everyone in America today,” asserted Gay Cooper, a member of the Black History Planning Committee at the church.
The program is slated to begin at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19.“We will be serving lunch to the church members from 1 until 1:30 p.m. and to the honorees from 2 until 2:30 p.m. following our regular services,” shared Cooper.
The committee shared that the program will consist of many individuals and groups providing poetry readings and song recitations, but the main event will be the honoring of those people who have been invited whose descendants have played a vital part in the civil rights movement over the years.
Cooper explained that all the honorees have not responded as of the interview but some of the personalities that will be attending include sister Maggie Royal, whose father, deacon E. T. Underwood, was the first black deputy sheriff in Sampson County. Royal was also the first black LPN hired by the Bladen County Health Department. Deacon Muriel “Mac” Culbreth, who was the first black postmaster in Columbus and Duplin counties, will also be honored. The first black doctor to serve the citizens of Roseboro, the Rev. Dr. Eddie Powell, will be present along with Betty Murphy of Roseboro, who is a descendant of George Washington Carver. Others attending Paris White and family, who are descendants of Patsy and Betty Brewington that were hid under the skirt of Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad to help slaves to escape to the north. One other personality that has committed to be present is Hilda Bryant Black. Black is a decendant of David Black, one of the founding fathers of Fayetteville Teachers Academy, now known as Fayetteville State University.
Another group that will be present for the celebration will be members of the North Carolina Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all black army prior to integration of the armed forces.
“Our main goal by providing this celebration is to ensure that everyone, not just our young people but some of the oldest members of our church and community, realize what a rich and diverse history we have, and that there are those among us who have played and are still playing a vital role in improving the quality of life in which we live,” expressed Cooper.
“The mission of the program is to help our generation know who they are and where they have come from and possibly be ready to know where they are going in the future. It is also make us aware of all the history that exists right here in our community,” added Cooper.
Royal stated, “You cannot figure out where you are going if you do not know where you have been. It is important for us all to realize what many in our past have been through so we can better understand our future.”
Snow Hill Missionary Baptist Church, itself, has been a part of history for some time as it celebrates 144 years of service to the Lord. It is one of the oldest African-American churches in the area.
“God will be and has been first in guiding us in everything we do daily and what we are attempting to do in our Black History Celebration. The Holy Spirit will be here on that day as we celebrate,” asserted Cooper.
Committee member Diane Cousar is vice president of the widows of the church and she shared that her husband was one of the first black American soldiers to patrol the Mexican border on horseback while he was in service.“It is important for us not to ever forget the sacrifices others have made so that we can live in a better place today.”
The Rev. Dr. S.E. Bryant shared that he is hoping that events such as this would help to promote a coming together of both African-American and Caucasian churches to unite in shared history. “There has been so much accomplished for God through both groups and we need to put together what we have learned throughout history that have made us a better nation under God. Hopefully this is something that will arise as we continue to work together as one in the future.”
“We want everyone to know that they are a Royal Legacy,a legacy that leaves behind the knowledge of who we were and who we will be going in the future,” concluded Culbreth.
The committee and the church wish for anyone to come a be a part of their celebration who would like to discover more about Black History and possibly about themselves.