Annual Black History Service

“No Dream Is Beyond Our Grasp”

4oo Years of Perseverance (1619 – 2019)

On Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 11 am the Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 816 Sunday Road, Chipley under the pastorate of the Rev. Malcolm O. Nelson will be having their Annual Black History Service.

The church will be paying tribute to 400 years of perseverance, 400 years of the creative industry of a people who were kidnapped and brought unwillingly to these shores and who, with resolute African spirit, fought for human dignity and equality. The service will show forth how their descendants moved from the slave ship to citizenship, ownership, leadership, judgeship, etc.

Orange Hill will commemorate the 400-year legacy of the 1619-2019 African American journey for humanity. The journey began with the global human trafficking that led to a group of Africans being brought to the English colony of Virginia in 1619. A Dutch ship carrying 20 Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, on Aug. 20, 1619. A voyage that would mark the beginning of slavery in the American colonies. This first group of Africans were recorded by John Rolfe, a local leader (and the widower of Pocahontas), as the arrival of “20 and odd Negroes.” Historian Bernard Bailyn described the first blacks as a group of men and women captured in Angola and “hijacked from a shipment to Spanish America” and sold at Point Comfort, Virginia for several barrels of fresh water and “victuals.” The small port on the Chesapeake Bay, next to Hampton, VA is now part of Fort Monroe. A state historical marker at the site notes “They were the first Africans on record to be forcibly settled as involuntary laborers in the North American British Colonies.” Some of the Africans became part of the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. America places historic importance on the Jamestown Settlement as the cornerstone of this nation.

Slavery existed in the United States of America from the 17th century through to the 19th century after the U.S. gained its independence and before the end of the American Civil War. Slavery had been practiced in British North America from early colonial days and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. By the time Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, those “20 and odd Negroes” had mushroomed to 4 million slaves in America. Today, there are more than 47 million people in the U.S. who identify as African American.

There have been several commissions created to commemorate this 400-year journey including the Federal legislation introduced by Congressman Bobby Scott titled “The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act,” H.R. 1242 – 115. On January 8, 2018, President Trump signed into law: H.R. 1242, the “400 Years of African-American History Commission Act,” which establishes the 400 Years of African-American History Commission to plan activities to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African-Americans in the United States.

Judge Elijah SmileyThe keynote speaker will be the Honorable Judge Elijah Smiley who was born, reared, and schooled in Gulf County. He is an honor graduate of Port St. Joe High School.  Judge Smiley holds a Bachelor of Science in Government, Masters of Business Administration degree and a Juris Doctorate degree. Judge Smiley currently serves as Chief Judge in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit serving Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Jackson, Washington, and Holmes County. He presides in the civil and probate divisions. Judge Smiley has been a member of the Florida Bar for 30 years and has served as a Judge for the past 20 years.  All are invited Sunday, February 17th at 11 am.