Hope from Heartache: Students see Black History as legacy

By Marilyn Stewart

For this generation of African Americans, Black History Month is more than names and events of days gone by. It is their legacy.

In a new video produced by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Office of Public Relations, seminary students share what it means to follow in the steps of those that dared step out onto a long road to equality. See the video here.

Watch and listen as students describe men and women who inspired them to take up where forbears left off and leave behind a contribution of their own. As heirs of heroes, students share that it is their legacy that helps them make sense of the past as they chart a course for the future.

When asked to describe Black History Month, MaShanna Gallo, a master of divinity student studying  counseling, said simply: “It means beauty, grace, excellence and perseverance.”

Freedom won by pioneers such as Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and others, is honored, yet students point to a greater freedom won by Christ, a freedom through which they find victory over sin and the grace to forgive.

“I have experienced everything from total, complete acceptance to harsh and blatant racism,” said Joy Pigg, a bachelor of arts in Christian ministry (BACMIN) student in the seminary’s Leavell College. “It has developed my faith because it has taught me really what grace is and what forgiveness means. It has helped me understand the gravity of how God has forgiven us for this problem of sin.”

In Christ, where loss is redeemed and heartache gains meaning, students speak of a passion to take hope and healing to those in need. Answering God’s call to serve brought them to NOBTS.

“The seminary was the only place that could cultivate the work God was already doing in me,” Gallo said she realized after much prayer.

“God ordained it for me to come to this place,” said Anthony Parker, BACMIN.

The example of African-American leaders who stayed the course despite great adversity may serve the Church well as God raises up leaders out of that legacy to lead believers to minister to a culture growing cold to the Gospel. With perseverance tied to faith, students see hope founded on Christ.

“I have been tested in ways that have been unimaginable,” Alicia Barker said. “I thank Him for everything He has done… I am a testimony, here in the flesh, that if I can make it, so can you.”

As those who understand steadfastness in the midst of trial, heirs of this legacy can lead the Church to stay focused on Christ regardless of circumstance.

Gallo said, “I only hope that in the end we all get to the same place where when we meet Him on the last day that He will say, ‘Well-done, my good and faithful servant.’”