Featured photo: the New Heart COGIC Dancing Daughters of God. Photo provided by Quenna Brown, youth pastor/director for New Heart COGIC.
Written by Tanya Terry
Youth expressed themselves and their respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through poetry, speeches and praise dance during the “Youth Salute to a King” program. The salute took place Jan. 15 at Grace Emmanuel Baptist Church, in Flint.
Six groups shared their gifts with a large audience on this day. Many of the groups were related to fraternities and sororities. Big Brothers, Big Sisters also took part, along with the praise dancers from New Heart COGIC.
“This year was the 20th year the Alphas have put on this program,” said DeAndre’ Chilton Sr. of the Epsilon Upsilon Lambda Chapter
The program has also involved a collaboration with other youth groups in the city.
Walida Britton, chair of Delta Academy Flint Alumnae Chapter, told the Courier that by participating in the program, youth participants not only honored Dr. King, but also had the opportunity to improve on their public speaking. Britton added she hoped youth participants would be motivated to do similar things to what Dr. King did while fighting for both unity and equality.
Quenna Brown, youth pastor/director for New Heart COGIC told the Courier the New Heart COGIC Dancing Daughters of God aimed to uplift the spirit and minister to the soul and mind through their praise dance presentation.
“This year, the song that they did was ‘For Every Mountain,”’ said Brown. “It’s by Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers…The song that they performed to says for every mountain you brought me over, for every trial you’ve seen me through. I think people here in America and everywhere – and as Dr. King himself had to do – we all face tests and trials along the way to our goals. That’s one of the things Dr. King had to face with the bus boycotting and the discrimination. That’s something that we all -every race and ethnicity face in today’s time. So, the song that was chosen this year was very significant. It was because of the grace of God we’re able to cross over our hurdles and our obstacles and overcome the things we have to face today.”
Judge David Guinn, historian for the Alpha Phi Alpha Inc. Flint Alumnae Chapter as well as the legal advisor for the Esquires Mentoring and Leadership Program, secured the keynote speaker, helped set up the venue and prepared the program.
“Dr. King made a lot of sacrifices in order for us to enjoy all these freedoms that some of us take for granted today,” said Guinn. “It’s important that we know our history and that the young people know of the great sacrifices he and his family made in order for us to have these freedoms.”
Keynote Speaker Moses C. Bingham, senior pastor at Damascus Holy Life Baptist Church, told the Courier he was once a member of the Alpha Esquires, now called the Esquires Mentoring and Leadership Program.
“I’m a minister just like Dr. King,” said Bingham. “I didn’t want to be preachy in that sense. The feedback I received was well received. I said in my speech that Dr. King demanded diversity, incited inclusivity and engaged in equality and equity for everyone. When I talked about my exposure at Civic Park Elementary, people resonated with the assemblies and the richness of the Flint Community Schools and how we should probably bring some of those things back with vibrancy.”
Bingham told the Courier he was happy he felt he was able to connect across generations.
Flint Resident Sherry Kelly, a member of Grace Emmanuel who attended the program, told the Courier what she liked about the presentation.
“It’s good the youth are involved and aware of what Martin Luther King Jr. represents and what he did for our country,” she said.