SWEDESBORO — Over 350 people crowded into First Baptist Church for Swedesboro’s Annual Black History Program on Feb. 16.
This soul stirring program included something for everyone with three choirs, a jazz band, historical reenactments, and hip hop dancers. There were several standing ovations throughout the program. “The singing was ‘Singsational!’” exclaimed Honey Green, Newark, DE.
Audience members loved the South Jersey Unity Choir, which made its debut on the program. This choir, made up of singers (ages 16-70+) from five different denominations, representing seven different churches, was organized just for this event. “We invited people to experience Negro Spirituals on a deeper level, so we rehearsed Underground Railroad songs, in an Underground Railroad station,” said Rev. Sherry Lynn Hall, Director.
“It was very inspiring to sing on this choir. Everyone loved it. Some choir members were even moved to tears and we sounded great,” remarked Sara Picciano, Choir Director-Organist, St. Clare of Assis Parrish, Swedesboro.
Millicent Sparks brought to life the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, who helped thousands of enslaved Africans to escape to freedom. At the conclusion of the portrayal, Sparks interacted with the audience, responding in character to questions about Tubman’s life in slavery, the Underground Railroad and the Civil War.
Sparks is an accomplished actor/writer/producer who has performed on local, regional and international stages and in film and on television.
Other participants included the national- award winning Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy Choir of Camden, NJ. They moved the audience by singing several Negro Spirituals. The PACE Jazz Band, made up of high school students, had people grooving and swaying as their “Trumpet Chicks” horn ensemble danced, sang, and played their instruments.
The Glory Tabernacle Choir and PACE band had audience members clapping their hands and swaying as the program ended. The program concluded with delicious food and refreshments donated by local restaurants and bakeries.
This program was sponsored by HELP, Inc. and supported by Frank Minor and Friends, Shop Rite of Gibbstown, Aunt Berta’s Restaurant, and several local businesses. Photographs, videos, and more information about the event is at www.helpinc.org and on Facebook: Swedesboro Black History Program.