Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thanks for support

I thank the following for their help and support for New Vision Youth MLK Unity Day supper and candlelight vigil events: KHRA, Edna Potts, Julie Douglass, Alvisia Blye-Vista, Joane Jones, Community Care Mary Beatty president of Riverview Association, Riverview Boys and Girls Club, Friends of Distinction: Martha Harper, Mary Jane Treece, Mary Ann Gullette, John Bradford, Shelia Releford, Tina Releford, Barbara Greene, Pam Swagerty, Tina Glover, Carolyn Goodwin, Marsha Patrick, Kandy Davis, Lisa Williamson, City of Kingsport Parks and Recreation Christy Leonard, James (Moore), Henry, Chasity Smiley, Tish Hayes, Pastor Geraldine Swagerty, Chuck Lollar, Dennis Lytle, New Vision Youth Kids and parents Veronica Camp, Ronald Mitchell, Wendy Himmelwright, WJHL, Kingsport Times-News, Jeannie Hodges, the Rev. Lawrence Myrick, Calvin Sneed, Erica Yoon, Stephanie McClellan, South Central Kingsport Weed-n-Seed, Soto family, Bobby Lane, Hope Six, Youth Build, and the community for coming together making these events a success.

Thanks to all and see you all next year.

Johnnie Mae Swagerty

Thanks, volunteers

Thanks to all the churches, volunteers, businesses, organizations, individuals, schools, youth and everyone for donations and volunteering time to the Kitchen of Hope. Your support and thoughtfulness is very appreciated.

I know all you volunteers have put in countless hours to the Kitchen of Hope, and I appreciate each of you for taking your time to support and help out. And I think all the people who come to the Kitchen of Hope to eat.

If it weren’t for the volunteers who help and the donations that come in, we could not make it. I didn’t want to name everyone because I know I would leave somebody’s name, organization or church out. But a gracious thanks to all volunteers and community donations.

Pastor Geraldine Swagerty

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month offers lessons for all of us


Black history is a subject too interesting and vast to be confined to a single month, much less the shortest one. But brief as the month is, it does represent a chance to bear witness, if only in a small way, to the progress, richness and diversity of African-American achievement.

It was during the 1920s that Carter Woodson, a premier black historian, first put forward his idea of a Negro History Week. Woodson saw the celebration as a way to advance the idea of African history as a form of black cultural empowerment and emancipation.

In his view, the knowledge and dissemination of African history would, “besides building self-esteem among blacks, help eliminate prejudice among whites.”

He aimed, he wrote, both “to inculcate in the mind of the youth of African blood an appreciation of what their race has thought and felt and done” and to publicize the facts of the black among whites, so that “the Negro may enjoy a larger share of the privileges of democracy as a result of the recognition of his worth.”

In a speech at Hampton Institute in 1921, Woodson addressed the issue head on: “We have a wonderful history behind us,” he told his listeners. “(But) ... if you are unable to demonstrate to the world that you have this record, the world will say to you, ‘You are not worthy to enjoy the blessings of democracy or anything else.’ They will say to you, ‘Who are you, anyway? Your ancestors have never controlled empires or kingdoms and most of your race have contributed little or nothing to science and philosophy and mathematics.’

“So far as you know, they have not; but if you will read the history of Africa, the history of your ancestors’ people of whom you should feel proud, you will realize that they have a history that is worthwhile.

“They have traditions ... of which you can boast and upon which you can base a claim for a right to a share in the blessings of democracy.

“Let us, then, study ... this history ... with the understanding that we are not, after all, an inferior people. We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements. It is not going to be long before we can sing the story to the outside world as to convince it of the value of our history ... and we are going to be recognized as men.”

Many decades have passed since Woodson spoke those words. But the pride and the passion in them are as fresh today as they were 90 years ago.

The week-long celebration Woodson first envisioned has become a month-long period for Americans of all races to reflect on the history and teachings of African-Americans whose contributions are still too little known and appreciated.

Along those lines, there is an African proverb that seems especially appropriate for this time of year: “Know your history,” it urges, “and you will always be wise.”

Good advice, that. Indeed the collective history of the African-American community contains invaluable lessons for us all.