Liberty Missionary Baptist Church celebrates history

ALABASTER- Liberty Missionary Baptist Church held their first Black History Cultural Extravaganza on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 1 to 3 p.m. The event featured exhibits and performances from church members that emphasized the accomplishments of notable African Americans.

“This was a community effort from the whole church. Our church is comprised of different ministries, and each ministry played a part in this,” said Chair of Drama Ministry Alisha May. “Black history is so much more than the Civil Rights movement. It is our objective to highlight the many contributions black people made to America.”

Kirsen Garner served as the Mistress of Ceremony. The event began with the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Alec May led the opening prayer, and Michaela Jones made introductory remarks.

Several church members acted as well-known African American figures and performed monologues about their life stories and struggles. Many members displayed exhibits that covered topics including sports, music, education, fashion, art and faith, in relation to black history. Praise dancers performed to three songs.

Mayo Taylor, the first black Alabaster city council member, and Othenia Hayes Turner, one of the first black Thompson High School students were also invited to speak about their experiences.

“Everybody was okay. The students who didn’t want us there mainly ignored us. There were a few kids who were ugly and threw spitballs and followed us singing ugly songs, put [the principal] made sure that the junk that happened in Topeka didn’t happen here. It wasn’t perfect, but it was okay,” Turner said. “Looking back, it really doesn’t seem that bad.”

Turner graduated from Thompson High School as a valedictorian and went on to graduate with honors from the University of Montevallo. She later taught at Thompson Middle School and Kingwood Christian School.

Several church members participated in the Civil Rights movement. Leonard Mayes Sr., who was a Civil Rights activist in Birmingham, said he witnessed the progress that the black community has made firsthand.

“I was standing on top of the Pizits department store and saw people bring out fire hoses onto children. I lived that history,” Mayes said. “We have come so far, and God has seen us through.”

Mayes said the black community will continue to grow through civic engagement and tolerance.

“If black people continue to vote, we won’t have as many problems in Shelby County,” Mayes said. “We need to continue to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

Rev. Akeam Simmons said he considers the first Black History Cultural Extravaganza a success and that it will continue to be open to everyone in the community. In the future, Simmons said he hopes the event will become a church tradition.

“Anybody can come, and we’re going to do things throughout the year that will accentuate black history,” Simmons said. “It is our hope that we can be a part of the Alabaster community so we can make Alabaster great for both black and white people.”