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Locals take time to reflect on freedom, responsibility

Jan. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Tuesday marked the beginning of a new year, but it also gave locals a chance to look back at 150 years of history.

Approximately 30 community members gathered Tuesday at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The document, signed Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln, designated all slaves as free people.

It was a milestone Maiya Tolliver, 25, of Huntington described as "amazing." She frequently attends the annual service.

"You can appreciate what you have now," she said. "You appreciate the fact you can walk down the street. You can appreciate the fact you can work wherever you want -- that you're not going to be discriminated against."

Tuesday's program included hymns, prayers, scripture reading and a message from this year's featured speaker, the Rev. Tomasina Stewart. She planned to address the price of freedom saying today it carries the responsibility of advocacy, ensuring services in one area are offered to all areas.

"It's advocating for justice," she said prior to the service. "It's taking care of the needs of folks ... Freedom is not free. It has a responsibility."

The Rev. Roy Terry, pastor at Sixteenth Street Baptist, joined other speakers in saying today's struggle is spreading that message to another generation. Those taking the podium mentioned the lack of youth in attendance.

"Many of them feel we have arrived, but we still have a long way to go," he said prior to the service. "We need to remember and understand the struggles placed on us by others, because now many of (today's) struggles (this generation) places on each other, as far as black-on-black crime, drugs and that type of thing.

"We've been set free in one respect, but we still are locked up and we're locking up ourselves," Terry added.

Tuesday's program supports the Martha Johnson Scholarship Fund of the Black Pastors Ministerial Association.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.

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