'Take Me Back'

By Allen Rich, North Texas E-News

Sunday afternoon, Harriet Tubman's famous Underground Railroad ran right down the aisle at Bethlehem Baptist Church, the moving words of Dr. Martin Luther King echoed from the pulpit and the poetry of Maya Angelou filled the air.

Bethlehem Baptist Church concluded Black History Month with a program steeped in history and filled with contributions African Americans, near and far, have made to society.

This history lesson came complete with a spellbinding reenactment of one of over a dozen daring missions completed by former slave Harriet Tubman as she used a network of safe houses and abolitionists to move slaves to free states and eventually Canada via a clandestine operation known as the Underground Railroad. 

Tubman's successful, yet often dangerous undertaking earned the respect of another former slave and one of the preeminent orators and statesmen in U.S. history, Frederick Douglass.

Often moving under the cover of night during the winter months when most people were likely to be indoors, Tubman became known as "Moses" for her steely determination to set her people free.

The message was particularly relevant in an historic church established in 1871, only six years after the abolition of slavery was declared in Texas on June 19, 1865.

Glimpses into the careers of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and civil rights activist Rosa Parks were given by Audrey Rayford and Sherry Elliott.

Another interesting facet of the program was an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of many African Americans born in Fannin County.  Myrtle McIntire and Annie Oates devoted their careers to education.  Charlie Christian was an innovative jazz guitarist that performed with Benny Goodman.  Joe Morgan was a Major League Baseball second baseman with the Cincinnati Reds voted onto the All-Star team eight times and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Judge Joe C. Dale is currently running unopposed for Justice of the Peace, Pct. 1 and will soon be observing his 17th year in office. 

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