Diggs Memorial honors the unsung

Kayla Smoot was honored during the Black History Month celebration at Diggs Memorial.

Diggs Memorial honors the unsung
February 23
00:01 2017

Special to The Chronicle

Diggs Memorial United Holy Church in Winston-Salem held its annual Black History Program on Sunday, Feb. 12 to seek out candidates that were unsung heroes.

The Master of Ceremonies was the Rev. Travest Hunter, who invited the packed congregation to join in singing the opening selection  “Lift Every Voice & Sing.”

The  energized crowd of youth and adults received a welcome from the church secretary, Pamela Rivers.

The Rev. Johnell Hunter, who is the founder of the Rhythm of Truth Ensemble, made a drum presentation that featured the African Jim-Bay Drums while inviting the crowd to engage in the rhythm.

Mashyia Graham, sophomore at Carver High School, sang  “A Change Is Gonna Come” by the late Grammy award-winning artist Sam Cook.

The committee selected Miss Kayla Delene Smoot.  She is the daughter of the late Crystal D. Phelps-Murray.  Kayla is a first-year high school student at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy (WSPA). She is the granddaughter of the Rev. Annie Duck. Kayla is an A/B honor student at WSPA.  She has been a Crosby Scholar since middle school. Every fourth Sunday she assists in serving dinner and treats to the senior citizens of the Somerset Assisted Living Homes. When asked what is her goal in life she said, “My goal in life is to be successful in life and achieve things in life my mother and family haven’t, so I may make them proud.”

The special musical guest was Renee Matthews-Phifer, WSPA director of Choral Activities, along with WSPA High School Mixed Chorus, Advanced High School Chorus, The WSPA Ladies Ensemble (aka The Phifer Singers). Phifer says she chose songs that would “connect the youth with their heritage and allow them to appreciate the journey.” The theme of their overall selections was ” Our Journey in Song … A Celebration!” Phifer remarked at the beginning of the selections that “The greatest contribution of our people is the Spirituals.”  The journey started in Africa, traveled to Latin America, and ended in America with gospel traditional.

Keith “KJ” Watson, who led the song “Victory,” was supported by his parents Keith and Jamestris Watson along with the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation for his rendition.  The WSPA had a special guest: Vera B. Andrews, mother of Phifer, who has been a longtime supporter of the group and brings enormous energy and enthusiasm to any program that she attends with her personal testimony and praise.

Rev. Duck is the visionary of the Black History Event.  She is a member of Diggs Memorial United Holy Church, where she serves as the senior minister on the Ministerial Staff.  The event concluded with a swelling rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”

The Rev. Dr. Lamonte Williams, senior pastor of Diggs Memorial United Holy Church, along with its officers and members, said they would like to thank the community at large for the support of the program.

Dr. Lamonte Williams submitted this report.

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