WELCOME to our annual African Heritage Celebration. This special event has always been an evening service, in the past, but this year we had to simplify and bring it into the morning worship service. Here, you will find some video from the event; the whole plan is in the bulletin for this Sunday, available here on the Bulletins page. Thanks to Deacon Myra Edwards and Rev. Linda DeMone for the special presentation, and to Organist Cairine Robertson for helping us plan the service. Thanks to Terry Gilbert for her artwork:
We begin with this Pat & Joanna Jarvis DRUMMING video, our ‘prelude’:
PRAYERS Creator God, we see Your work in ancient times to bring humankind to life, far away. The diversity of your people on earth tells us something of true creativity, awesome beauty, divine purpose, and holy love. And then there are all the other living things here! In Your amazing image we have been made, and can enjoy and understand so much. We praise You for all of life, and our place in it.
In this African Heritage Month, in Your holy presence we become aware of the wider history that is ours. We become aware of our white privilege and the need to celebrate the fact that black lives also matter, O God. You remind us that Jesus was not white. We become aware of His message for all peoples and nations and languages and ethnicities: we can be one in body and in spirit.
In this Heart & Stroke Month, we pray for all whose face heart disease or the results of strokes. We also bring the cares of our hearts for all those who are ill or injured, in body or mind. We continue in prayer for folks like Dwight and Bob and Dottie and Don and Richard who are recovering from surgery, and pray for folks like Carolyn, awaiting surgery or other important healing care.
Today, we intercede for our sisters and brothers of the African United Baptist Association, including our close neighbours of the Acaciaville Church. We pray for our friends of the JAC group who would usually be with us tonight – we miss them so much. Spirit of God, inspire us all, today, with stories and songs of justice, education, solidarity, joy and truth. May these be found among us as we draw closer together – in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
African Heritage Sermonette ~ (Acts 2:5-18) J G White. I chose this text for today’s African Heritage service. From Acts 2, the historic scene of Christian Pentecost. The Church gets born here. I chose it because of who was there, and how the preacher that day – Simon Peter – preaches, explaining the incredible scene.
So, as I read these verses now, watch for these things:
- Who were the ethnic groups in Jerusalem for the festival who heard their own languages spoken.
- If you know where even a few of these diverse folks were from, imagine what they looked like.
- When Peter preaches from the book of Joel, listen for words that might resonate with people of African Descent here in Nova Scotia.
Acts 2: 5-18
This month I read a good book I got as a Christmas gift. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation As An Exercise in Hope. (2020) It is by Esau McCaulley, PhD, an assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. McCaulley points out that
A fundamental criticism of Black Christianity is that it is an alien thing, an imposition of the white man through the persuasive power of the whip and the chain. (p. 96) McCaulley, with detail and persuasion shows that black and brown people are in the Biblical story. They are they from the beginning, not to mention so many ethnic groups.
So I see in the Pentecost scene the great diversity of people included from the start.
- Who was there, in Jerusalem, on that day of prayer and power and preaching? We might not be sure even how to pronounce them all, but we might recognize Mesopotamia, Judea, Asia, Egypt and Libya. Egypt and Libya: this is Africa. People visiting Jerusalem from these northern parts of Africa were in on the first day in history of the Christian Church.
- So, we may not think of Egyptians looking black. Didn’t they all look like those thin white people on the stone artwork of the pyramids? No. Egypt is at a crossroads, at the one land route into Africa. And certainly to the west, Cyrene in Libya, was also definitely part of Africa, and inhabited by diverse Africans.
When these folks heard some of Jesus’ apostles speaking in their own languages, Peter explains it using the prophetic book of Joel. “God declares, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh… Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.” So Africans, Romans, Asians, and Middle Easterners are welcomed into the new fellowship of the Holy Spirit of God, that day. And the promise was coming true, Peter exclaimed, that even male and female slaves would be blessed and be prophets for God. So, slaves, and people from Africa, have been Jesus’ people, from the beginning.
KAMALA HARRIS – Presentation by Deacon Myra Edwards
Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. She was reared in a predominantly African American neighborhood of Berkeley, and sang in a Baptist choir. Kamala’s mother, emigrated from India to attend the University of California in Berkeley, where she met Kamala’s Jamaican-born father, Donald. Kamala’s mother obtained both a master’s and doctorate degree and went on to have a career as a biomedical scientist. Her father became a Stanford University economics professor. Her mother also ensured that Kamala and her younger sister, Maya, maintained ties to their Indian heritage by raising them with Hindu beliefs and taking them to her home country every couple of years.
Kamala said that her parents met during the civil rights movement and would frequently take her and younger sister to civil rights marches, as a multi-racial American and the child of two immigrant parents, Kamala learned at a young age that the country she called home was not always friendly to its citizens of color. Kamala recalled visiting her father in Palo Alto after her parents divorced and being told by a neighbourhood child that she was forbidden from playing with Kamala and her younger sister, Maya, because they were black. While in elementary school she was bussed to an almost entirely white school in a different district as part of a federal attempt to desegregate schools, something Kamala said made her feel like an outsider.
In 1976, five years after her parents divorced at the age of 12, Kamala’s mother accepted a teaching position at the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal. Kamala, her mom and younger sister moved to Canada where she finished elementary school, then attended and graduated from Westmount High School. While living in Montreal, Kamala learned French and even started a dance team at her high school.
After graduating, Kamala moved back to the US where she pursued a degree in political science and economics at Howard University, one of longest standing Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. During her time at Howard, she became a prominent member of the campus debate team and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha (the first Black sorority ever created, whose origins began on Howard’s campus). After completing her degree at Howard, Kamala went on to obtain a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law where she served as a president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association.
DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Kamala subsequently worked as a deputy district attorney (1990-1998) in Oakland, earning a reputation for toughness as she prosecuted cases of gang violence, drug trafficking, and sexual abuse. In 2000, she took a job at San Francisco City Hall where she ran the Family and Children’s Services Division representing child abuse and neglect cases.
It would be in that role, and subsequent positions, that Kamala prosecuted a number of controversial three-strike cases whose harsh sentencing has been the subject of much public criticism. The Three Strike Law, which was first established in 1994 as a part of an aggressive nationwide anti-violence strategy, enforces mandatory life sentences for repeat offenders. A number of states have adopted some form of a three strikes rule that seeks to punish repeat offenders, but California has been widely criticized for its particularly harsh enforcement of the law. Under California’s controversial three strikes law, any person who has committed three felonies, which includes crimes like arson, robbery, drug possession and firearm violations, can received a life sentence. Despite the fact that the law was meant to be applied to violent repeat offenders. Even though Kamala has consistently faced criticism for prosecuting people under the three strikes law, she has defended her actions several times. During a radio interview with The Breakfast Club Kamala said that she “would never apologize for saying that when a child is molested or a woman is raped or human being kills another human being that there should be serious consequences for that.”
In 2003, Kamala defeated her former boss, Terence Hallinan to become San Francisco district attorney making her the first person of color ever elected to that position. Her accomplishments in this role include the launch of the “Back on Track” initiative that was designed to help low-level offenders get a fresh start by providing them with education and job opportunities.
However; during a time when the public has become increasingly aware of the violence that police officers disproportionately inflict on people of color, it’s jarring to learn that Kamala opposed a bill that would require her office to investigate shootings involving police officers as well as refused to support body-worn cameras. She has also been reluctant to commit to defunding the police.
Kamala continued her political ascent by beating Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley for California attorney general in November 2010, making her both the first African American and the first woman to hold the position.
Kamala quickly made an impact in her role by pulling out of negotiations for a settlement from the country’s five largest financial institutions for improper mortgage practices, eventually scoring a $20 million payout in 2012 that was five times the original proposed figure for her state.
Kamala also made waves for her refusal to defend Proposition 8 (eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry), a 2008 California ballot measure that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court. After the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an attempt to appeal the ruling in 2013, Kamala officiated the first same-sex marriage in California since Proposition 8 was initially enacted.
Additional accomplishments include a successful lawsuit against the false advertising of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, as well as continued legal pursuit of the classified advertising service Backpage, which led to its CEO pleading guilty to facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
Kamala married lawyer Doug Emhoff on August 22, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California. She is the stepmother of his two children, Ella and Cole, who affectionately call her Mamala.
In November 2016, Kamala handily defeated Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez for a U.S. Senate seat from California, thereby becoming just the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to enter the Senate.
Kamala has since joined the chamber’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on the Budget. She has supported a single-payer healthcare system and introduced legislation to increase access to outdoor recreation sites in urban areas and provide financial relief in the face of rising housing costs.
Kamala has also made a name for herself from her spot on the Judiciary Committee, particularly for her pointed questioning of Brett Kavanaugh, who faced accusations of sexual assault after being nominated for Supreme Court justice in 2018. And when clips of her persistent and unwavering questioning went viral, it was clear to many that Kamala’s impact on the world had only just begun.
Kamala again made headlines and proved that she was a force to be reckoned with when, as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she confronted Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a 2017 hearing about his contact with Russia during the Trump campaign. Her anger and distrust towards the Trump administration was anything but concealed. Having a firsthand look at how things were being run in Washington as a Senator fueled a fire in her to really make change in her country.
2020 PRESIDENTIAL RACE
On January 21, 2019, during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day interview on Good Morning America, Kamala announced she was running for president in 2020 (debate). She stood out as one of the top speakers of the first Democratic primary debate in late June, garnering headlines for taking Joe Biden to task over his history of opposing federal busing for school integration.
She found herself a target of attacks during the second debate after candidates began poking holes in her idealistic healthcare plan, and bringing up many of her controversial decisions as attorney general, her popularity began to slip. In early December 2019, Kamala announced that she was withdrawing from the presidential race.
PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE
On August 11, 2020, Joe Biden announced that he chose Kamala as his running mate. “I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said. “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with [my son] Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
Through her friendship with Beau, she got to know Joe.
“I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief,” Kamala said. This made Kamala the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to be nominated for a national office by a major party. She is also the fourth woman in history to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.
Despite reservations about Kamala’s past as a prosecutor, her road to becoming the U.S. vice president-elect has been historic, and for many, the future is a hopeful one. “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” Kamala said during her November 7th victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware.
Kamala published two books in early 2019: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey reflects on her personal relationships and upbringing, and Superheroes Are Everywhere, another memoir rendered in picture-book form for kids.
She first became an author in 2009 with Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer, which explores her philosophy and ideas for criminal-justice reform.