This Christmas, it is my prayer that each and every one of you will feel a pull from the Holy Spirit to lead you to want to do more by giving to others. America is in such a different place than it has been during my 68 years of life.
It is my opinion that we, the people, must continue to show much love for one another. We must live according to Scripture and, as said in Diana Ross’s song “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” we can truly change things when we start giving.
It is Christmas, a time when millions of us give gifts. God gave us His Son Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. Let’s take a page out of that Holy Book, and give more than you normally would. I did, and unexpected blessings keep coming my way.
Now on to the New Year. Join me at the All Nations Baptist Church for Watch Night on Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. Our pastor, Rev. Dr. James Coleman, has asked for a special presentation, with historical significance, about how and why Watch Night was started back in 1862.
On Freedom’s Eve, the night before the Emancipation Proclamation took effect on Jan. 1, 1863, worshipers gathered in Black churches to pray, give thanks and wait for the stroke of midnight, the stirring moment when slaves would officially, and finally, be “forever free.”
It has been 156 years since President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The tradition of what became known as Watch Night continues, though most people today have no clue as to how and why Watch Night continues.
Join me at All Nations Baptist Church to hear this presentation by Wanda Williams, deputy Freedom of Information Act officer and archivist of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of General Counsel, will be there to share historical facts about Watch Night.
Williams has been an archivist with the National Archives at St. Louis since 2009. Her career with NARA began in 2006 as a reference archives technician and with the Nixon Library’s Watergate tapes team. She holds an M.A. in U.S. and Caribbean history from Morgan State University in Baltimore and is an active member of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. It was my pleasure to speak with her, discussing Black history. (More on her next week.)
During Watch Night Service, the congregation will enjoy a historical video, and every participant will receive a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation that they can take home to frame and hang for family and guests to see and talk about for the coming generations.
One thing we must always remember: we have to look back in order to go forward. How can we prevent things from happening to us as Black people, if we don’t know what has already happened in the past?
There are people I know today who would rather not talk about the history of what happened here in America during the time when Black people were enslaved. Whether we want to hear it or not is irrelevant. We must teach our children, especially, since Black history is not taught correctly in our public and private schools.
One quick example is the fact that history books say that 178,000 Black men fought in the American Civil War. It was proven that there were at least 209,145 Black soldiers who fought in the war. When did I learn that? While serving as the project director of the African American Civil War Memorial, appointed by then-D.C. Council member Frank Smith.
Please join me, our pastor and congregation on Watch Night, as you enjoy this Christmas holiday. Merry Christmas, everybody. More on the New Year’s tradition of Watch Night next week.
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email email@example.com or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.