By Ernest Lowery
New Journal and Guide
The month of February – this leap year – I’ve found so many choices of events to attend regarding our history … it’s like Christmas in my mind. This is especially true for me, because I really love this time of year. The gifts of knowledge that present themselves are simply incredible. It’s a time when I see and hear grown-ups talking about us in usually the most positive way. It’s a feeling of urgency to have Black folk on the same page, and with this I do agree. Let’s be clear, there would be no American history without the imprint of our African descendents’ forced enslavement.
This week I chose to attend the New Chesapeake Men for Progress (NCMP) Black History Program at the Dr. Clarence V. Cuffee Center, 2019 Windy Rd. in Chesapeake. The two-hour program was staged with posters denoting the past and the future of Chesapeake which turns 53 years old this year.
During this period in history, Dr. William (Bill) Ward (past mayor of Chesapeake) and Dr. Ella Ward (present member of Chesapeake City Council) spoke strongly about the City of Chesapeake and their involvement.
Dr. Bill Ward detailed a trail the NCMP played in electing the first two African-Americans to Chesapeake City Council – Dr. Hugo A. Owens and W.P. Clarke Sr.. Looking back just a few decades ago, Chesapeake was host to one of the largest Ku Klux Klan rallies, supported in Great Bridge.
Yes, there are challenges all around us; that is why organizations like the NCMP are so important. They fight for the betterment of all, but particularly our young Black males. One of the many takeaways that is vital to any elected candidate is the power of the vote along with an attitude “each one, reach one – each one, teach one.”
During the program, we sang along with the video “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Herman Ward was our moderator. Alvetta Alexander and Rev. Wayne Jones also participated in the program. David Jones recited Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and David Washington, the current NCMP President, also spoke on the need to continue on a healthy path toward inclusion and fairness for all Americans.
In conclusion Ms. Nischelle Buffalow was the recipient of the NCMP Community Service Award for her vision, and her outstanding efforts in feeding, clothing, and providing school supplies to residents in the surrounding areas in Chesapeake. A true community patriot, Ms. Buffalow and her team have served over 1,000 men, women and children in the past few years … thank you.
The grand finale came when everyone locked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome.” After that, you know how we do … we ate and fellowshipped, telling stories of old and new, as the crowd paid closer attention to all the history displayed on the tri-folded boards and tables.
For the record, this is not always a fun time; remembering the days of old. But history is important. Let’s do our part and help keep the records straight.
You can visit the NCMP on their website at www.menforprogress.org.