Take ‘joyful burdens’ to God, black police, fire honorees told

Take ‘joyful burdens’ to God, black police, fire honorees told
February 25
00:00 2016
 Above: Photos by Donna Rogers- The Rev. Charles “Chad” Armstrong III speaks to the audience at the Winston-Salem Public Safety Black History Month Celebration on Feb. 21 at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.

By Donna Rogers

The Chronicle

Being a public servant can be burdensome, but it has a joyful aspect, too, especially when one realizes that God can have your back, the Rev. Charles “Chad” Armstrong III told the audience at a Black History Month celebration.

On Sunday, Feb. 21, the Police and Fire departments of Winston-Salem honored African-American retired personnel and a current leader during the third annual Public Safety Black History Month Celebration. The celebration was held at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, where Armstrong is director of ministries.

Armstrong told the audience that many times, African-American public servants, such as police officers, firefighters and ministers, don’t get the thanks or commemorations they should for doing their jobs: helping to save lives and working for the public. He said sometimes people are angry at public servants for doing their jobs, also, but someone must carry the burdens of society.

“We do not have to carry burdens alone,” Armstrong said. “It is not irresponsible for us to turn over our burdens to someone bigger than us,” namely God. And while public servants give their burdens to God, the public also should shoulder some of the burden by helping public servants.

Armstrong, a native of Winston-Salem, told about his great uncle Al Kinard, who in 1959 was the first black motorcycle police officer in the Winston-Salem Police Department. He was killed in 1961 when he was in an accident on his way to help another officer.

“We being black Americans in this great land, we sometimes, and at some points in our lives, bear a joyful burden,” Armstrong said. “It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.”

“Thank you for bearing the joyful burden of public service and continuing the tradition of Black History Month,” Armstrong told the honorees.

During the program, honorees spoke about how God has helped them in their jobs with protection and strength. Honoree Battalion Chief Shirese Moore, the first female African-American in the department to hold this rank, gave honor to God as she addressed the audience. She thanked city officials and Fire Chief William Mayo.

“I will continue to serve with all our great individuals, I will continue to strive, I will continue to make our Winston-Salem Fire Department one of excellence,” she said.

Honored from the Police Department were retired Capt. Terry Jones, retired Sergeant Stephen Hairston and retired Records Specialist Margaret Epps. The Fire Department honored retired Capts. Gary Brown and Aldine Cloud for their service, and Moore.

City officials Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke and East Ward Council Member Derwin Montgomery thanked and praised the honorees. Montgomery urged the public to reflect on the history of African-Americans in the police and fire departments to gain an understanding of what they have been through.

The officials also praised the winners of the Black History Month coloring and essay contests, who also were honored.

The Police Department has a pamphlet called “Forging Ahead: Black police officers in Winston-Salem.” For more information, call 336-773-7835 or contact the Community Resource Unit by email at  

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