Another successful Black History Program in Swedesboro

SWEDESBORO — On Feb. 25, hundreds of excited people experienced the joy and beauty of African-American culture at the Annual Swedesboro Black History Program held at First Baptist Church in Swedesboro.

This free community program, sponsored by HELP, Inc., exceeded expectations with music, dance, and drama by some of the Delaware Valley’s best performers.

“Wow! I’ve never heard the Black National Anthem sung like that before,” said the newly appointed Rev. Langston Washington, Mt. Zion AME church, Woolwich.

“The program is great every year, but I think that this year was the best ever,” said William Corsey of Deptford. “You could feel the electricity in the air. I’m so full of joy,” he exclaimed.

“This program is spectacular. That’s why I come all the way from New Castle, Delaware every year,” said Honey Green.

This year’s theme was, “Our Past Will Not Be Silenced” and Deputy Director Jim Jefferson, Gloucester County Commissioner, passionately gave the keynote address outlining African-American struggles and triumphs, by sharing his personal stories.

Dozens of young people took out phones to record the electrifying Trumpet Chics and PACE Jazz Band. “How do they dance while playing instruments like that?” asked 11 year old Ernest Pierce of Vineland, NJ.  “They were amazing.”

Tiffany ThrBak gave a moving recitation of Maya Angelo’s “Still I Rise” poem.  Her husband, E. Deionne ThrBak, performed as Paul Robeson and sang his iconic “Deep River” in his melodic bass voice.

“We were super happy with this year’s line-up. We bring the best performers to make history come alive for all ages and backgrounds. The numerous standing ovations, and the remarks on social media, attest to its success,” remarked Rev. Sherry Lynn Hall, Director of Community Programming, HELP Inc.

Leading up to the event, the South Jersey Community Choir directed by Hall and comprised of singers from various denominations, ages, and racial backgrounds, rehearsed at Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church (an Underground Railroad station). Singers heard the church’s connection to Harriet Tubman, viewed the trap door where slaves hid, and spoke to descendants whose ancestors found refuge there.

The audience gave standing ovations to its “This Train” and “Ride On King Jesus” numbers. The audience swayed and clapped to “I’m Free,” by the First Baptist Mass Choir and the St. Paul UAME choir sent the audience away rejoicing with a soul-stirring finale.

Delicious refreshments were donated by First Baptist, Paul’s UAME, HELP, Inc. and other supporters. “We can’t thank First Baptist enough for allowing us to hold this at their beautiful edifice again,” said Yusef Fluellen, Deputy Director, HELP Inc. “They are true community partners.”

HELP, Inc.’s mission is to celebrate, educate, and preserve African-American history and culture.  HELP, Inc. sponsors several widely attended public programs throughout the year including the Swedesboro MLK Day Celebration, Juneteenth Festival, Black History Program, educational historic tours, Art and Essay contests, Legacy (a film about the historic Richardson Avenue School), and much more. 

Donations are needed to support its youth educational programs, community programs/events, and preservation of its three historic sites. HELP, Inc., is a non-profit organization. To donate and/or volunteer, and for more information, please visit www.helpinc.org. Inquiries can be sent to info@helpinc.org.  Check out its Facebook page at Swedesboro Black History Program.

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