To commemorate African American History Month, staff members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined visitors in celebrating former and future African American leaders in the church and across the world during a recent worship service at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville. 

“We are here today because African Americans have made — and continue to make — significant contributions to the history of our church and society,” said Nancy Benson-Nicol, associate for theological education funds development in the PC(USA). “It’s important that we remember them and realize that this is a shared history — that their history is also ours.” 

Preaching from 1 Corinthians 9:16–23, Benson-Nicol added: “Cultural dexterity — born of empathy, awareness and openness — is an essential quality to embody in being an authentic witness to the gospel. And when we ignore or dismiss the value of cultural dexterity, we risk the idolatry of the ego, the destruction of relationships and the stagnation of the gospel. 

“The fruits of cultural dexterity include the expansion of our experiences of the transformational power of Christ to come from one viewpoint to a variety of points of view in various contexts, the enrichment of our self-understanding through the commitment to a purpose greater than ourselves and the recognition of God’s presence as we are present to all people.” 

The story of African American History Month — also known as Black History Month — begins in 1915, half a century after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S. That same year, Carter Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which sponsored the first Negro History Week in 1926. That observance led to the official recognition of Black History Month in 1976. 

Learn more about the many vital initiatives of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries and the African American Congregational Support Office.