PDT Staff Writer
Daniel Melvin sang “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” and Worthy Patron Carlton Cave, Sr. reminded attendees and you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been, at the Sheba No. 14 Order of the Eastern Star, Black History Month Kumbayah Celebration at the Trinity Masonic Lodge Hall on 14th Street in Portsmouth Saturday.
“The purpose of today is the celebration of Black History Month. It is one of the very many celebrations that we are having here in the community at large, along with Shawnee State University, the Fourteenth Street Community Center,” Cave said. “Last month they had the Martin Luther King memorial services, and things like that. So this is just an extension of that.”
Cave said the hope among the organizers was to reach the youth of the community with the stories of those involved in the black history of America, including scientists, playwrights, sculptors, musicians, comedians, statesmen, ministers, educators, craftsmen, physicians, singers and more.
“We’re trying to instill in them (youth) the heritage of not only outside of the state of Ohio, but what we have right here in Scioto County,” Cave said. “(Major League All-Stars) Al Oliver and Larry Hisle; football greats Chuck Ealey and Curt Gentry, and Dr. (James) Scott, the first black coroner in the United States. So we have a rich history right here in Scioto County.”
Cave said equally a part of black history is the fact that two women in the community are celebrating milestone birthdays - one is 100 and one is 103.
“This event today is of great significance because of the generation that’s coming up that was not a part of the oppression,” Hortense Robinson, past Grand Deputy No. 7, one of the organizers of the event, said.
At 80, Robinson has seen the struggle first hand.
“We have progressed a bit, but we still have a long way to go,” he said.
Ken McCall, Grand Joshua for the state of Ohio, traveled to Portsmouth from Chillicothe to be in attendance at the event.
“If you don’t remember where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re going,” McCall said. “That’s the reason it is important for me to be here. It is important to remember from which we came.”
February was chosen because of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery and black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
Portia Williams gave a poetic tribute, and Cassandra Block, Worthy Matron and Mary E. Sanford, Grand Deputy No. 7 were scheduled to give remarks as a part of the program as well.
One of the last parts of the program was the singing of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson, which reads, in part - “Stony the road we trod, bitter the chast’ning rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died; yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet come to the place for which our father’s signed?”
“So all of this is what we are trying to learn to celebrate, and pass it on,” Cave said. “We can’t forget our heritage.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com