Forest Hill Church announces Black History Month events

Bakari Kitwana, author and political analyst, will lead the discussion on Feb. 21.

Forest Hill Church Presbyterian is beginning Black History Month by inviting the community to a panel discussion of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s groundbreaking work “A Case for Reparations,” on Sunday, Feb. 21, 1–3 p.m.

Bakari Kitwana, author, political analyst and activist, will lead a panel of experts, including Amilcar Shabazz, Deadra Farmer-Palleman and local policy experts and advocates. A breakout session will follow.

Kitwana, whose commentary on politics and youth culture has been heard on NPR and seen on CNN, C-Span, and “The Tavis Smiley Show,” is currently senior media fellow at The Jamestown Project, a diverse action-oriented think tank at Harvard Law School. He is also CEO of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop, which facilitates discussions throughout the country on the issues facing the hip-hop generation.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month, “Faith Moves Us Forward: Building the Beloved Community,” focuses on the trials and triumphs of black Christians.

Because the issue of reparations for African Americans inspires so many different reactions, it is important for those attending the Feb. 21 event to familiarize themselves ahead of time with Coates’ ideas. His article, published by The Atlantic can be read, free of charge, at  

A brief overview of Coates’ article will be presented at the church’s Black History Month kick-off event on Sunday, Feb. 7, 12:30–2 p.m. Refreshments—samples of favorite foods from New Orleans, including fish and grits, beignets, and chicory coffee—will be served.

Forest Hill Church also invites the public to its second-annual Gospel Concert on Saturday, Feb. 27, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Local gospel singers, poets and musicians, including Elégie and the internationally acclaimed Wright Family Singers, featuring Mother Willie Mae Wright, will perform. Anne Wilson, music director at Forest Hill Church, will offer an evening of praise and musical worship to feed the soul.

This convergence of multiple faith communities, musicians, vocalists, and religious and community leaders will explore the range of musical genres written and arranged by African-American composers. The concert is free, but donations to the church’s food pantry or other free-will offerings are always welcome.

Closing out the month-long celebration of black history, Forest Hill Church's youth will lead a conversation on the Belhar Confession on Sunday, Feb 28, 12:30–2 p.m.

The Belhar Confession is a statement of beliefs on racial reconciliation and the evils of apartheid. It was written in 1982 in the Afrikaans language. The Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa adopted it in 1986. Its adoption as a creed by the Presbyterian Church (USA) is being voted on by churches throughout the United States. The church's youth have been studying it for several weeks and look forward to leading this discussion. All are welcome to join this lively conversation.

Throughout the month, Forest Hill Church encourages the community to support black-owned businesses. Church members plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with brunch, lunch or dinner at one of Cleveland’s many black-owned restaurants. A listing of suggested businesses and restaurants is available at

As in the past, a wall-sized graphic representation of this year's Black History Month theme will be on display throughout February. The display features blacks in the Bible and in the early church, illustrates historical schisms and policies that divided the church in modern and post-modern society, and highlights theologians committed to healing these separations. The featured artist is Tony Greene, a local artist who creates lifelike portraits of African-American men and women.

All events are free and open to the public. Forest Hill Church is located at 3031 Monticello Blvd. For more information, call 216-321-2660 or visit

Peg Weissbrod

Peg Weissbrod is the outreach director for Forest Hill Church in Cleveland Heights.

Read More on Religion
Volume 9, Issue 2, Posted 12:26 PM, 01.29.2016