African American culture celebrated at annual event

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Opinion Editor

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The sacrifice, responsibility, and service of the African American culture was recognized during the African American History event at South Plains College.

Dr. Sheyleah V. Harris-Plant, professor of mathematics at SPC, was honored at the African American History event held Feb. 21 in the Sundown Room of the Student Center at the Levelland campus as the recipient of the Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.

“There is a sense of pride from being recognized for what I am doing,” said Dr. Harris-Plant. “It is not often someone is recognized for doing good, or for doing their job, which was the case for me.”

She mentioned all she did was what the Bible had instructed her to do, and what she was taught by her parents.

“Help people who need help when you can,” explained Dr. Harris-Plant.

African American History month has quite a meaning behind it to Dr. Harris-Plant.

“African American History Month, or Black History Month, as I prefer, is when I, as a child, was taught the history that my ancestors lived,” said Dr. Harris-Plant.

She says that this month is more than just a time to hear about African American History. It is a time to learn as well.

“We are all defined by what we know about our ancestors and their contributions,” said Dr. Harris-Plant. “And this month gave me a chance to learn about our history and our impacts.”

Dr. Harris-Plant says that the purpose of Black History Month, when it began, was to educate people about the history of the Black or African American Culture.

She suggests that others can get involved as well in order to better gain an understanding of other cultures too.

“I would recommend and suggest that everyone educate themselves about the history of not only the African Americans, but of every other culture,” said Dr. Harris-Plant. “We live in a nation of a diversity, and all cultures should be recognized and respected by everyone.”

Ben Alexander, an advisor at the Reese Center campus, served as the keynote speaker for the evening.  Alexander, who also serves as pastor at the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ in Lubbock, emphasized sacrifice, responsibility, and service received from African American culture.

“Rosa Parks, Fredrick Douglas, A. Philp Rudolf, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, and President Barak Obama,” Alexander listed.  “Now, all of these figures in time have brought us to where we are now.”

Alexander explained how each of these African Americans answered the call to come, when they did not have to.

“In the Bible, just as Isaiah said come and do something,” said Alexander.

  He then went on to explain responsibility, adding how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served his nation and held a responsibility to do it as well.

“A leader who sat down in protest, when racism oppressors tried to get him to stand up,” said Alexander. “A leader who stood up, when fatigue and insults should have had him sit down.”

Alexander explained Dr. King’s non-violent stance and his responsibility to his country.

“His oppressor tried to get him to throw the first punch to start a riot, or throw the first brick at authorities,” said Alexander. “But Dr. King’s non-violent response was his responsible approach that answered so many.”

Alexander then described the sacrifice that so many African Americans made.

“Dr. King’s lonely life was a sacrifice he paid to help his fellow people,” said Alexander.

He explained how Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and how everyone had abandoned him. His sacrifice was when He looked into the cup and saw the sins of the world, and he cried out to the Lord, “What is in this cup?” and drank it.

“Jesus drank that cup of sins, that included my sins and your sins,” said Alexander.

Following Alexander were the King Sisters, who sang songs that African Americans sang while they were enslaved, but never lost faith.

[Photo by BRITTNY STEGALL/ PLAINSMAN PRESS]

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