February is Black History Month

Video: Gwendolyn Brooks: A Poet’s Work In Community (length 3:46)
February is Black History Month. Black History is actually best understood as “American History.” It is not separate or other, it is integral and pivotal in who we are today. As you have heard me say, there is a special Black History Month celebration service at the House of Prayer church on Erin Street just off of Goldie Road this coming Sunday, February 25th at 3:30 pm. I hope many of you will consider going and honoring our sister churches as they celebrate their heritage and contribution to our nation’s history and society.

The truth is, there are many “Unsung Back Heroes” in American History. Most know MLK and Rosa Parks “by heart.” But do we know about Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000)? She grew up on the south side of Chicago and became a very significant American poet. Gwendolyn was the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. She gave both platform and voice, as well as credible leadership, to Black authors in America.

Annie Allen (1949) was Gwendolyn Brooks‘ second poetry collection, that won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1950. It was published by Harper & Brothers on August 24, 1949, when she was 32 years old. Brooks found inspiration from the poetry of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid. Annie Allen tells the story of a Black Chicago girl who grows into womanhood and motherhood.

Brooks used her prize money to empower other Black writers and authors to succeed in publishing their history, culture, perspectives, and advocacy. She went on to teach at Columbia College in Chicago and several others to teach, write, and publish. She went on to receive many other awards and recognitions. A fierce advocate for empowerment and life change, Gwendolyn inspired a younger generation to rise up and speak through written prose. She was well known for helping people to discover the importance of making their mark in this world. She once said:
“Do not desire to fit in. Desire to oblige yourselves to lead.”
Gwendolyn Brooks
I hope that we will each seek to raise our bar of engaged involvement in shaping our church, our community, and our society for the good of all. Words, as Gwendolyn discovered, are a very powerful tool for shaping our world!

Christopher Hazell, in his 2017 article in the “Viewpoint” PLNU ezine entitled: “How Much Do Our Words Matter?” says this: “In a 2013 TED talk, ‘Does Language Bring Us Together or Pull Us Apart?’ biologist Dr. Mark Pagel speaks of the potency of our words using a memorable phrase, explaining that through language we are able to “implant our ideas” into another’s mind. Language provides the rails on which thoughts ride. The words we use — and how we use them — matter immensely because they shape the way we perceive the world and participate within it.”

Write, Speak, Live, Love, and Serve with the Voice of Heaven!

Pastor David 😊

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