Forest Hill Church celebrates Black History Month
This past summer, 50 members of Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian (FHC) broke into small, mixed-race groups and had numerous dinners in one another's homes. In an initiative called Courageous Conversations, they tried to gain a better understanding of racial bias and inclusivity in the community.
FHC is committed to continuing the race conversation with a series of events to celebrate Black History Month. during the four Sunday services in February, FHC youth will speak about an African American who inspires them. Throughout the month there will be special events honoring African Americans and their community.
After the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, Feb. 5, from 12:30–1:30p.m., the Student Group on Race Relations (SGORR) will conduct a workshop for all interested adults and children in Bodwell Hall. SGORR is an organization of students from Shaker Heights High School that promotes positive social relations. Nationally and internationally recognized, these students have introduced their message and their methods to thousands of high school students and adults through programs at the City Club of Cleveland, the National Conference on Community and Justice, and Shaker PTO meetings, among others.
On Sunday, Feb. 12, from 12:30–2 p.m., the church will show the movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. It is based on the true story of a renowned brain surgeon who overcame obstacles to change the course of medicine. Ben Carson struggled in school, and grew up in a broken home in an environment of poverty and prejudice. The movie tells how he was ultimately able to achieve his dream of becoming one of the world's leading neurosurgeons.
On Sunday Feb. 19 at 11 a.m., Maghan Keita will be preaching. Keita is a human rights advocate, scholar and author. A professor of history at Villanova University, Keita is the author of several books, including Race and the Writing of History: Riddling the Sphinx and America's Culture Wars.
Director of African Studies at Villanova and faculty member at the university's Arab and Islamic Institute, Keita has served as associate director of Villanova's Center for Peace and Justice, and director of its summer graduate program in world history as well as administrator of African affairs for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
February's events will culminate with a discussion of Kindred by Octavia Butler. Interested readers will gather on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 12:30–1:30 p.m. Octavia E. Butler is a well-known writer of science fiction and fantasy. This two-time Nebula Award winner and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient had humble beginnings in Pasadena, Calif. In a 2006 interview with John Marshall, book critic Butler said, "I think people really need to think what it's like to have all of society arrayed against you."
All events are free and open to the public. FHC welcomes all as it works to make the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—"the eleven o'clock hour on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America,”—a myth exploded. Forest Hill Church is located on the corner of Lee Road and Monticello Boulevard.
Vikki Nowak is a seven-year resident of Cleveland Heights and strategic program director at Nottingham Spirk Design. Her two children attend Heights schools.