ORLANDO – In celebration of Black History Month, Central Florida Dorothy Turner Johnson Branch of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Orlando area chapters of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, partnered to present a program for Black History Month. It was quite fitting that the program took place at the oldest African American Church in Orlando, the historic, Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church on Sunday, February 19, 2023 at 3:00pm. The program centered around the ASALH annual theme for 2023, which is “Black Resistance”.
The Panel discussion provided the audience with a wealth of information, addressing how Black people have resisted the challenges and atrocities imposed upon them since setting foot on the shores of America.
Dr. Patricia Broussard addressed “Black Women and Resistance” sharing her paper, “Unbowed, Unbroken, and Unsung: The Unrecognized Contributions of African American Women in Social Movements, Politic and Maintenance of Democracy”, which is published in the “William and Mary Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice.” Dr. Broussard is on the faculty of the Florida A&M University College of Law.
Professor Don Harrell lectured on “The Arts and Black Resistance”. Professor Harrell is an ethnomusicologist, an award-winning producer and director. He provides lectures, presentations and performances centered around African and African American life and culture.
Rev. Dr. Robert Spooney, lectured on “The Black Church and Resistance. Dr. Spooney is the pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Institutional Church. He addressed the important role that the church has played in “Black Resistance” emphasizing the history of Orlando churches and pastors in “Black Resistance”.
The program moderator was author, poet, storyteller, Valada Flewellyn who opened the program with her poem entitled, “The Poetry of Black Resistance”.
Brother Danny Vereen served as Master of Ceremony and offered the Invocation. Insightful words of welcome from, Brother James Deveaux, Basileus Chi Tau Tau, the undergraduate chapter at the University of Central Florida (UCF), Brother Ray Collier, Basileus Omega Beta Beta Chapter and Brother Richard Williams, Basileus Chi Tau Chapter, opened the program.
ASALH president, Manuel Jones spoke about the Origins of Black History Month, sharing how ASALH founder Carter G. Woodson was responsible for founding Black History week in 1926, which today is celebrated nationally as Black History Month.
All of the speakers addressed the importance of sharing Black History in Florida, a state that is addressing issues challenging the importance of Black History and how it is taught in our schools.
A short film was shown about the “Triple Six Triple Eight Battalion”. Dorothy Turner Johnson, namesake for the Central Florida Branch of ASALH, made history when she enlisted in the United States Army in from 1942-1945 and became a member of the famed “6888 Battalion”. which was the only all African American Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps to serve overseas in World War II. The Battalion was renamed the Women Army Corp (WAC). Their task was to deliver millions of letters to the troops. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to the “6888 Battalion in 2022, one of the highest civilian honors.
A plague commemorating Johnson’s service, presented to The DTJ Branch of ASALH by the US Congress and signed by Congresswomen Val Demings was shared with the audience along with the news that Tyler Perry Productions is looking at doing a movie about the “6888 Battalion”.
In closing Manuel Jones, President of the Dorothy Turner Johnson Branch of ASALH, expressed to the audience, “Let your VOICE be heard and we CANNOT be SILENT, considering our Voting Rights and the true narrative regarding Black History being taught in the school system are being challenged”.