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Celebrating Black History Month With Events Open to All

Celebrating Black History month in February is an American tradition because Black history is everyone’s history. It should be celebrated in our churches, schools, workplaces and in our homes. Although we focus on it only for a month nationally, it provides the opportunity for sharing stories that helped to shape our country.

Each year there is a theme. This year’s is “Black Resistance,” because it was resistance that enabled Black people to survive the ills of enslavement, Jim and Jane Crow laws, segregation and racial injustices. This cultural history includes Negro spirituals, the Harlem Renaissance, rap, rhythm and blues, and figures such as Misty Copeland and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, we have six Black Catholics on the road to sainthood: Venerables Pierre Toussaint, Henriette Delille and Father Augustus Tolton; plus, Servants of God Mother Mary Lange, Julie Greeley and Sister Thea Bowman.

The Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Black Catholics invites the Church family to join in the celebrations planned during February. All are invited to the virtual event, First Friday Table Talk, which will be held Feb. 3. It will feature story highlights from Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, about the day Dr. King came to Kingstree, South Carolina, and why she and her mother chose to attend despite the threat of their home being burned if they did so.

Black History Month is also a time to reflect on the future to demonstrate love for Christ and trust in the plans he has for us. It is the perfect time to build greater unity among all people. On Feb. 17, we will hold a program on peace at the Pastoral Center from 6-8 p.m. The program will engage the audience in a discussion on Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, which was developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church. Presenters include Deacon Larry Deschaine, Ph.D., Michael Gourdin, assistant director of Black Catholic Ministry, and me.

The Black Catholics Heritage Celebration with Bishop Jacque Fabre-Jeune, CS, will be Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pastoral Center in Charleston. There will be a Mass with the Heritage Choir followed by lunch, then presentations from historically African American parishes — on their history, hope and heritage —a youth track, and a listening session with the bishop. St. Patrick Church in Charleston will be the host.

For more information on these events and to register, visit

Kathleen Merritt is the diocesan director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry. Email her at