Friends of Doleman Black Heritage Museum host fifth annual celebration
Smooth, spirit-filled harmonies of rhythmic gospel music sailed from the stage at Bridge of Life Church Saturday as the Friends of the Doleman Black Heritage Museum hosted the fifth annual Doleman Black Heritage Museum Celebration of Black History.
The theme of the celebration was honoring the churches of the historically black neighborhood of Jonathan Street in Hagerstown.
Reggie Turner, interim president of the museum, said the churches represent the community.
“The churches are the community,” he said. “From days long before, the churches were where people had a place to go, where people were fed, where people were clothed, and where people received the word. And that has held true to this day.”
Museum Curator Wendi Perry said churches were a place where people of the black community could go when other public places were closed to them during the years of Jim Crow laws and segregation.
Pastor Pierre Lewsey of Faith Embassy church in Silver Spring, Md., emceed the celebration, which was attended by more than 100 people.
The seven area churches that participated — including Asbury United Methodist Church, Zion Baptist Church and Jonathan Street House of Prayer — received awards for their contributions to the community.
Julianna Albowicz, a representative for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., presented a letter recognizing the museum and its celebration.
Singers from area churches, as well as the Gospel Tabernacle Male Choir of Havre de Grace, Md., performed musical selections.
The crowd cheered the choir on and clapped along during rousing pieces like “Oh My Lord, What a Time.”
The celebration featured a performance by Voices of Victory Radio Choir of Pensacola, Fla.
Choir Director Tom Alexander is a cousin of Alesia Parson-McBean, project director for the museum. Alexander danced onstage as he led worship, to which the crowd responded with raised hands and shouts of affirmation.
Barron and Wanda Frederick, 41 and 39, respectively, of Hagerstown, said it was their first time attending one of the museum’s black history celebrations. Both said the music at the event was “awesome.”
Barron Frederick attended Ebenezer AME Church — one of the participating churches — while he was growing up, and his mother still goes there, he said.
“I appreciate (the celebration) because it let’s us know our history and where we come from,” he said. “Being part of it growing up in Hagerstown, going to Ebenezer, I just really appreciate it.”
Wanda Frederick said the museum is “a great organization” that is carrying on the legacy of African Americans in Hagerstown. She was pleased that the churches came together in support.
“I really appreciate how the churches have grown together and come together to celebrate together in this event,” she said.
Alicia Notarianni, Herald-Mail
Allegany County, Maryland
Ric Duggan, photographer
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008