On New Year’s Day, Black Churches Also Celebrate 153rd Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Rev. Lewis E. Logan II
Rev. Lewis E. Logan II

A Los Angeles-based pastor on Friday challenged blacks to remain vigilant and not succumb to minor success that mask larger problems.

“Let hunger happen to you,” the Rev. Lewis E. Logan II told an audience at St. Philip AME Church during the 153rd Emancipation Proclamation Celebration service. “You’ll stay vigilant.”

Logan, co-founder and senior minister of Ruach Christian Community Fellowship AME Church, is a former pastor at St. Philip Monumental AME Church in Savannah.

The annual New Year’s Day celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s Jan. 1, 1863, edict largely freeing slaves in the Confederate states and moves each year to a different black church.

This year the church was on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

But, as Presiding Elder J.E. Taylor reminded the audience, “It did not free all of the slaves.”

Taylor and the Rev. Matthew Southall Brown are the annual leaders of the local tradition which Brown was instrumental in re-vitalizing 40 years ago.

Again this year, Brown, the dean of Savannah’s black clergy, reminded those in attendance that they were getting “older and older” each year and pushed for more youth involvement in the celebration effort.

Also this year, Taylor made a special presentation of a plaque honoring out-going Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson for her service to Savannah, a commemoration of which will be sent to the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum and the Emancipation Committee’s its archives area there.

Jackson said she was blessed for the recognition of “the positive changes we have made in this community.”

“I will not go away. … I know I have given up the seat now, but when you see me in the community I can speak up and speak out,”

She also thanked her predecessor, former mayor Otis Johnson, and the late mayor Floyd Adams.

Taylor made a similar re-presentation to Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott who reminded the audience of “struggle of our past, our history.”

“Once a mayor, always a mayor,” Scott told Jackson.

And Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin told the group it will take a shared responsibility to make sure our overall city of Savannah is safe.

“We did not have a good year last year,” he said referring to shootings and violent crime. “We’re going to change that in the next 12 months.”

“We love you Savannah, Chatham. Let’s have a good year.”

Keying his remarks on the November hunger strike by University of Missouri student leader Jonathan Butler, Logan challenged the audience to “Stay hungry and stay thirsty” to focus on needed social changes facing their communities.

“He was all in,” Logan said of the student leader whose actions were part of a protest that forced the resignation of University System President Tim Wolfe in the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied…. You and I have to learn how to stay hungry and stay thirsty.

“Just because you make more money, you’re still black.… Are you ready to take your life to another level?”

Logan also decried unhealthy eating habits and obesity, telling his audience, “Your health is your wealth.

“God knows the land needs healing. … I see in you all that you can be.”

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SOURCE: Savannah Morning News
Jan Skutch