JACKIE DAVIS: February enlivened by love and history

Jackie Davis

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you have anyone you love, this holiday is for you. From sweethearts to spouses, from family to friends, from teammates to classmates, today is a perfect opportunity to show your love and appreciation for those whose lives touch yours. The sky is the limit to what you can do to show love and affection. Roses, balloons, heart shaped cookies, cakes, cards, toys, kisses ... all show your appreciation.

If you happen to be a lover of all things chocolate, then this day is extra special for you. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate — and much more — are everywhere.

For many years, to celebrate Valentine's Day, I baked a red velvet, heart-shaped layer cake with pink frosting for my family. I also made Valentine gift bags full of treats. Although "I love you" was said regularly, Valentine's Day was always the day I could pour out my love to those closest to me, just because.

My husband and I are still sweethearts after all these years, and we have always celebrated this very special day together. Although I no longer bake the traditional cake, now that it’s just the two of us in the home, I have continued to send Valentine gift bags across the miles to my now adult children. I still decorate my home for this sweetest of days and I have plenty of chocolate in candy dishes to enjoy.

Monday is Presidents' Day, set aside for us to take a moment to commemorate the birthdays of two great leaders of this nation: Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. My home is also decorated with American flags in February, in honor of this patriotic holiday.

February is also Black History Month and I will be singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at First Presbyterian Church of Lockport on Sunday. This majestic song has been known as the African American National Anthem since the beginning of the 20th century. It was written as a poem in 1900, in honor of President Lincoln’s birthday, by acclaimed African American poet James Weldon Johnson, and later set to music by his brother Rosamond Johnson.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was first publicly performed as part of a celebration of Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) by a choir of 500 students at the school where James Weldon Johnson was principal. It later became the official song of the NAACP, and it has continued to inspire countless people of different races for more than 100 years.

As we take time to acknowledge the historic accomplishments of Americans with African heritage, I hope you will take a moment to read and be inspired by the first verse of a song that has meant so much to so many Americans through the years:

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,

‘Til earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the list’ning skies,

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on ’til victory is won.

Jackie Davis of Lockport is an experienced inspirational vocalist, musician and music instructor. Her column is published every other Friday in the Union-Sun & Journal. Contact her at jackiedavis.music.words@gmail.com .

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