“Lift Every Voice and Sing” Black Church Ball Honors “Flame Keepers”

First Lady of Allen Temple Baptist Church Elaine Smith with Pastor J. Alfred Smith and Congresswoman Barbara Lee at African American Church Inaugural Ball on Sunday at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.

By Carla Thomas As leaders from across the country and world came together in Washington D.C. to celebrate the commencement of the second term of President Barack Obama, African American churches held an inaugural ball Sunday at the Grand Hyatt commemorating the historic moment and celebrating the future. The Balm in Gilead organization, along with leaders of African American churches, held the event to honor President Obama and the countless history makers who dedicated their energies and lives to freedom and justice. The re-election of the president is “the ultimate manifestation of the long struggle of Black people in this country,” according to Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, III, chair of the Conference of National Black Churches. “I am forever grateful and honor our leaders of the past and present,” said event producer and Balm In Gilead founder and CEO Pernesssa Seele, who added that she and others will stand by the president in prayer and action for the 1,460 days of his second term Actor Morris Chestnut highlighted Keepers of the Flame for social justice through music, screen, sports and medicine, art, activism and faith. “It’s historic for America and African Americans. We will enjoy this moment and ensure our issues and concerns are spoken and addressed during this term. African Americans should expect a return on the investment of 96 percent of our vote,” he said. A special tribute to President Nelson Mandela and his legacy was presented by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “As we celebrate President Barack Obama, we thank President Nelson Mandela for lighting the torch and the flame President Obama continues to carry,” she said in attendance with her family and members of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. “As we now celebrate the second term of President Barack Obama, I recall President Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done. ‘” In honor of the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, Rev. Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church offered a musical tribute of “My God is Awesome” by saxophonist Ski Johnson and “The Presence of the Lord is Here” by Gospel Recording Artist Byron Cage. Honorees for social justice through music included musician Hugh Masekela and opera singer Jessye Norman.  Actress Cicely Tyson and Ruby Dee were honored for social justice through stage and screen.   Sports Icon Muhammad Ali and Dr.Joycelyn Elders were honored for social justice through sports and medicine.
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