Emancipation service welcomes challenging 2018

Emancipation service welcomes challenging 2018
January 04
04:00 2018

A local service greeted the uncertainties of the new year with a remembrance of the 155th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Emancipation Association has made it a longtime tradition to hold a service on Jan. 1, the day Lincoln signed his famous executive order freeing the slaves in the rebelling Southern states.

Every year it’s held at a different church, with New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church hosting this year’s commemoration, which drew more than 100 attendees.

But times have changed, with this being the first one held with President Donald Trump in office.

“The coming year brings us a new beginning filled with great expectations for the future based on our stormy past, particularly last year,” State Rep. Evelyn Terry told attendees. “Last year brought the challenges that we have not encountered since the days of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Terry said that there’s a “fierce urgency” not felt since the time of Lincoln when it comes to issues of equality and justice.

Trump’s presidency has been met with widespread concern among many African-Americans and other minorities. White nationalists have been emboldened nationally in what they see as an ally in Trump, especially after his mixed reaction to a riot involving their movement and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Trump has been widely criticized and legally challenged on his attempt to ban travel and refugees from some Muslim countries and for his hard line on undocumented immigration. His administration has also taken measures to limit civil rights enforcement by both the Justice and Education departments.

On Twitter, Trump has called Georgia representative and civil rights icon John Lewis “all talk” and said his district was “crime infested.” He’s insulted NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem to protest unjust treatment of African-Americans by police, and said what they’re doing is unpatriotic.

New Jerusalem Pastor Ronald Speas was the service’s keynote speaker. He used his sermon to talk about turning to God for emancipation from the challenges that people face.

“I don’t believe God has brought us this far to leave us,” he said.

As is tradition, the Emancipation Association gave away four $1,000 scholarships to four high school students. One recipient was Reynolds senior Jailyn Smith, who hopes to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. She wants to major in chemistry or neuroscience so she can be an anesthesiologist or neurosurgeon.

“I feel like my hard work paid off,” said Smith. “I’m just thankful to God and the Emancipation Association that I’ve been blessed with this scholarship.”

East Forsyth senior Devontae Harrison, who plans to major in accounting at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), said he was also grateful for the scholarship.

“I thank my parents for getting me here,” said Harrison. “I thank the committee for picking me out of all the people they could’ve chosen.”

The other scholarship recipients were Kierra Leak, who also attends East Forsyth and plans to go to WSSU, and Nuayuana Gadson, who attends Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy and plans to go to East Carolina University.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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