The Gospel Army Black History Group
The mission of the Gospel Army Black History Group is to improve self-esteem and promote values that yield success by teaching Early 19th century Afro-American History. Historic events are used to illustrate how faith in God, determination and courage improved the lives of American slaves and helped them to acquire their freedom. Our major goal is to teach black history to the general public with an emphasis on heroism as opposed to victimization.
History of The Gospel Army Black History Group
The Gospel Army Black History Group was organized in 1997 for the purpose of organizing and promoting Juneteenth at Crossroads Village. Our first sponsored event was the Juneteenth Celebration at Crossroads Village. A 501c3-tax status was granted to the group in 1997. We obtained a grant from the Mott foundation in 1998 to support the Juneteenth celebration at Crossroads from January 1, 1998 through December 31, 1998.
Juneteenth is a Texas holiday that commemorates when Texas slaves obtained their freedom. Texas was the last Confederate State to be informed that the Civil War was over and that their liberty was now granted to them under the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has been celebrated every year at Crossroads Village since 1997. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated in a manner similar to the Forth of July with little reference being made to the history behind the event. Juneteenth at Crossroads Village is unique however, in that the celebration is entirely dedicated to Black History.
Juneteenth is celebrated in a civilian and military component. The civilian component is directed by Pat Gray. Pat has worked with the organization since the beginning and receives a stipend. Pat is a well-known accomplished actress and playwright. Pat assembles a series of portrayals that represent African American history during the period leading up to and including the Civil War. These portrayals are of former slaves and abolitionist. The portrayals reveal little know information that have a significant impact on defining who we are as Americanís.
The program serves youth by including them in the portrayals or the audience. In 2001 Juneteenth was celebrated at Whittier Middle School and Camp Tuscola Corrections Facility.
Traditionally, values are taught by history. Ancestors and heroes are used as role models for future generations. Unfortunately, Black Americans were taught that their ancestorís were merely victims until the end of slavery and had minimum contributions to advancing the nation. In the 1800ís the media seldom reported Black American heroism and were quick to describe them as victims. This view is deeply rooted and it lowers self-esteem as well as expectations. Most importantly it is incorrect. Black history is only taught by one high school teacher in Genesee County and is considered by most educators to be unimportant. Many are still trying to convince America that slaves did not like slavery and are completely unaware of what they did to change their situation.
Program objectives are to teach young Afro-Americans history that emphasis the heroism of slaves and describe their contribution in shaping the nation. The history taught is not well known but includes significant contributions of black as well as white Americans.
Mott Foundation and Greater Flint Community Foundation
The Gospel Army Black History Group,
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