Heritage Banquet draws much attention from community

March 3, 2016 in Religion

By Jackie Hampton


“Honoring the Legacy: In Pursuit of Excellence” was the theme of the College Hill Baptist Church Heritage Banquet held Feb. 27, in the church’s Family Life Center. The banquet supported the Sam Bailey Ordinary Man Scholarship, which is awarded each year to a College Hill graduating senior.

Jonathan Coleman gave a history of the scholarship award, which gives honor to the late Samuel L. Bailey, civil rights activist and lead plaintiff in the 1962 Bailey vs. Patterson civil rights action case.

Jeraldine Watts, a member of the scholarship committee, reminisced about how hard Bailey worked and how hard he fought to make sure children could get a good education. Watts said Bailey was very visible in letting people know exactly how he felt, especially during Black History Month.

Local controversy surfaced regarding the choice of the banquet speaker. The scholarship committee decided to rescend an invitation to Al Arnold after hearing that he was one of three African Americans interviewed on WAPT Channel 16 who supports keeping the confederate flag as Mississippi’s state flag. The committee did not have prior knowledge of Arnold’s stance regarding the flag. The controversy was a hot topic on Facebook and in news stories for several days.

Scholarship awards were presented by committee member Jean Jacobs. Isaiah Rush was the recipient of the prestigious $2,000 award. Book stipends were given to second and third place winners, Justin Coleman and Hope Reeves, respectively.

Also awarded was the Black Achiever’s Award which is given to an individual in the church that has demonstrated extraordinary achievements in church, career and community. Wanda Green presented this award to Claudia Henderson.

The banquet included a silent auction, ‘back in the day’ musical selections sung by Brandon Mitchell, and a theatrical production titled “Take Me Back” performed by the MADDRAMA Performance Troupe of Jackson State University under the direction of Mark G. Henderson.

The theatrical and musical performances seemed so realistic at times bringing back memories of how individuals during the civil rights era were reduced to less than human beings. Many in the audience were seen wiping tears from their eyes during the dramatical performances.

The performances stirred memories of individuals who suffered and died for the rights of humanity. These individuals included slain civil rights workers Medger Evers, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney.

The performances also included stirring references to the four girls who were killed in Birmingham’s 16th Street Church bombing and Emmett Till, an African-American teenager who was murdered in Mississippi for reportedly flirting with a white woman.

Malena Dow presided over the program for the evening.

College Hill Baptist Church, located 1600 Florence Ave., is pastored by the Rev. Dr. Michael T. Williams.