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Greensburg church celebrates Black History Month

| Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, 7:39 p.m.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Ruth R. Tolbert, president of the NAACP Greensburg-Jeannette Branch and minister at Greater Parkview Church, is served Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, by church member and NAACP chapter secretary Norma Skillings during a Black History Month celebration program and soul food dinner at the Greensburg church.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Ben Thompson, of Greensburg, plays with his 5-month-old grandson, Bradlee, during a Black History Month celebration program and soul food dinner held Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at Greater Parkview Church in Greensburg.

Dozens of people powered by faith and soul food came together Sunday to celebrate black Americans' contributions to the success of the United States.

“Back in the '20s and '30s, there was no recognition for the work and service that people of color did,” said Ruth Tolbert, president of the NAACP's Greensburg-Jeannette branch and a minister at Greater Parkview Church, the Greensburg congregation that hosted the special event. “So we celebrate and educate.”

Black History Month is observed annually during February.

“The essence and glory of Black History Month is we get to remember,” said Bishop Carl E. Jones Sr., pastor of Greater Parkview since 2003. Helping in that effort, he said, is the Academy Award-nominated film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of three black women who were mathematicians working for NASA during the 1960s space race.

“They made a significant contribution to the movement of the United States of America. Yet they were never talked about until now,” Jones said. “So we have Black History Month so we can remember those who have gone before us, and then we teach our children and educate them while also reminding ourselves of the sacrifices that were made for us to be where we are right now.”

Sunday started with morning worship at the Westminster Avenue church before people shared a soul food dinner, which included fried chicken, corn pudding, cabbage, cornbread and potato salad. Dinner was followed by music and dramatic biographies of prominent black figures throughout U.S. history, including abolitionist Harriet Tubman, civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pittsburgh native and playwright August Wilson.

The program is in its seventh year. Donations collected help fund the NAACP Youth Council's summer educational trip.

Gabrielle Skillings, 21, of Greensburg is a lifelong member of the Youth Council. She said the group hopes to take a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The council focuses on honing leadership and communication skills.

“They prepare us for the real world out there,” Skillings said.

Tolbert said the program aims to instill “a greater self-esteem and pride about what they do because they are familiar with the folks that have made history, have made changes in our nation — significant changes.”

Kevin Zwick is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2856.

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