Pride in black history emphasized at gala - Picture Slideshow included

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By Jesef Williams

Music was the backdrop for an evening filled with much praise, celebration and reflection about black history as February draws to a close.

A black history gala was held Wednesday night at Bundy Auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

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The program featured song, poetry and dance from locals as well as visiting groups.

Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs headlined the night.

Anointed Voices of Praise, a local youth choir, kicked off the evening, followed by poetry from the Rev. AnThony Pelham and Thomasha Walker. Both poets touched on issues that have historically plagued black Americans and what blacks can do today to uplift themselves.

One line from Walker’s poem read: “We must work together to build a better nation, so all of God’s children can live in peace and liberation.”

Youth from Caroline Court gave a dance and drum performance that paid homage to African tribal celebrations. The Faith, Hope & Victory praise team performed afterward.

Visitors Catrina Pegues and the J.A. Lewis Ensemble of Columbia each rendered gospel tunes that inspired many in the audience to praise God aloud. Kitauni Witherspoon was on the front row enjoying the program.

“It’s exciting to be in a place that’s celebrating our history,” she said. “I just had to be a part of this. It was more than a program – it was a spiritual experience.”

After that, it was time for Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs’ performance.

Although Williams, a Lancaster County native, was absent because of sickness, the band didn’t miss a beat. The band played tune after tune, inspiring the crowd to stand up, clap and sing along.

The band covered oldies classics such as “Stand by Me,” “This Magic Moment” and “Brown Eyed Girl.” Several audience members came down to the stage to dance when the band performed “The Electric Slide.”

At that point, the event took on the feeling of a party.

Tyrom Faulkner, who emceed the program, said the celebration was a good way to close Black History Month. He said there was a lot of positivity in the air that everyone who attended should be able to feed off.

“We are young, gifted, talented and black,” Faulkner said. “And that’s something we should be proud of. Not just this month, but every day of your life.”

Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or jwilliams@thelancasternews.com