The drummer on Michael Jackson’s hit single, “Billie Jean,” the attorney who defended the police officer in the infamous Sean Bell murder trial in New York City, and one of the few African-American women in the nation with a Ph.D. in mathematics are the guest presenters for the 2017 Black History Series at Bethel A.M.E. Church.
“We couldn’t be more excited that Ndugu Chancler, the Rev. Paul P. Martin and Dr. Carol Smith have agreed to present as part of our second annual Black History Series,” said the Rev. Kevin T. Taylor, pastor of the city’s oldest African-American congregation.
“We are excited to continue to complement the rich Black History offerings of the New Bedford Historical Society and other community organizations with our Series, which is designed to educate, enrich, enlighten, engage and empower,” added Rev. Taylor.
Areas of focus in 2017 include civil rights, music, literature and arts, law enforcement and a double-dose of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Why devote two of the six symposiums to S.T.E.M.?
Quoting NASA Scientist Katherine Johnson, whose fame has skyrocketed as one of the women profiled in the critically acclaimed film, Hidden Figures, Rev. Taylor explained, “We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics. Everything is physics and math.”
S.T.E.M. (Part I). Saturday, January 28, 1-3 p.m.
Featured Film: the award-winning, Hidden Figures, which chronicles Johnson and two other pioneering African-American women who played vital roles in the NASA mission to send a human into space.
Music. Saturday, February 4, 1-3 p.m.
Guest Presenter Ndugu Chancler, Grammy-award winning percussionist, composer, clinician and adjunct professor of Jazz and Popular Music Studies, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. A part of the musical ensemble on the “Thriller” and “Bad” albums, Chancler was the drummer on the hit single “Billie Jean” and has also played on a number of movie soundtracks including, An Officer and a Gentleman, Indecent Proposal, and The Color Purple. He also co-wrote “Dance Sister Dance” for Santana, “Reach For It” for George Duke, and “Let It Whip” for the Dazz Band, and will speak to the immeasurable contributions of African-Americans to the genre of music.
Literature & Arts. Sunday, February 12, 2-6 p.m.
Bethel will support the 17th Annual Frederick Douglass Community Read-a-thon sponsored by the New Bedford Historical Society. Rev. Taylor will join other community residents, leaders, historians and book enthusiasts in reading excerpts from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, the 1845 memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass. NOTE: Held at First Unitarian Church, 71 8th St., New Bedford
Law Enforcement. Saturday, February 18, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Black History Symposium #5 will combine with Quarterly Conversation on Race, Class & Social Justice #7. The special session will begin with the critically acclaimed documentary, Thirteenth, which examines the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, especially in the present-day context of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion headlined by the Rev. Paul P. Martin, the New York-based attorney who has successfully represented hundreds of individuals accused of crimes, and represented clients in such notable cases such as the Martha Stewart Case; the New York State Governor Patterson Investigation; and the Sean Bell Murder Case among many others. Rev. Martin, pastor of Mt. Carmel A.M.E. Church in New Rochelle, NY, will be the guest preacher at Bethel on Sunday, February 19 at 11 a.m. as well.
S.T.E.M. (Part II). Saturday, February 25, 1-3 p.m.
Guest Presenter: Dr. Carol Smith, professor emeritus California Polytechnic University, Pomona, Calif. Post-retirement, Smith has partnered with the California State University system to present a multi-week Summer Mathematics Institute for middle schoolers in greater Los Angeles. Smith is one of a small number of African-American females in the nation with an earned Ph.D. and will speak of the impressive contributions of African-Americans to the discipline of mathematics and the career opportunities S.T.E.M. degrees afford.
All sessions take place in the sanctuary of Bethel A.M.E. Church, 532 County St., New Bedford (unless otherwise noted on the accompanying flyer) and are free and open to the public. For more information contact the church office at (508) 997-2410 or Rev. Kevin T. Taylor, Pastor, at (323) 509-8706.
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