The African American Historical Commission of Camden will hold its 9th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Celebration Sunday and Monday, Jan 14-15.


The event will begin with a Day of Praise at Greater New Calvary Church of God in Christ at 3:45 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14. The event will be free of charge, according to a news release.


This event will feature the first performance from the MLK Mass Male Chorus — men from the male choruses of Mt. Gillard, Pilgrim Rest, St. Paul and Hickory Ridge churches, among others. Also performing during the event is author and gospel recording artist Jennifer Page, COGIC Jurisdiction Four Choir director Harold Wade Sr., along with AAHCC Hall of Famers evangelist, Sheila Torrence Staten, and vocalist, Laura Heard.


Also during the program, AAHCC will present the MLK AWARDS and induct the Hall of Fame Class of 2018.


MLK 2018 Awards: MLK Humanities — Velmon Johnson; Bernice Calahan Clary Service Award — Charles Elliott; MLK Spirit Award — Kevin Franklin; MLK Lifetime Achievement Award — Rudy Galbert; MLK Timeless Dreamer Award — Willie Charles Cole;


Hall of Fame Inductees: Education – Artie Furlow; Government/Law Enforcement – Charles Reed and Billy Seals; Spiritual/Religion – Rev. H.E. Anderson and Bishop Wallace Johnson; Historic Institutions – St. James A.M.E. Church - Camden and Good Home - Ouachita County; Community Service – Rev. and Mrs. Kevin Tate; Music – Shiela Torrence and Laura Heard; Sports – Tyree Webster, 1969 Lincoln High School Basketball Championship Team; Business – Alvernon Mchenry; Sports And Business- James Thrower.


On Monday, Jan. 15, the federal King Holiday, the commission will observe a Day of Service by offering services to the community. Participants are asked to develop a service project that will benefit their hometown and the residents. People may also join the commission as they continue their efforts.


“The mission of the African American Historical Commission (AAHCC) is to research, publish and preserve the history of African Americans in Camden and the southwestern region of Arkansas,” according to the release. “AAHCC fills a void that has been previously ignored by historians. AAHCC continues to highlight the accomplishments and experiences of Institutions, Camdenites and Arkansans in the Southwest Region of Arkansas who are of African descent. In the past, AAHCC has accomplished this task by establishing the AAHCC HALL OF FAME and holding an MLK Dream Banquet that featured awards such as the Bernice Calahan-Clary Service Award.”


“Another project the AAHCC has accomplished is the publishing of ‘IN THE SPIRIT,’ an encyclopedia of the history of the African American church in this region. Various historical markers have been erected around the city of Camden, honoring African Americans who have made major contributions to The City of Camden and State of Arkansas. Recent dedications were for Monroe Bowie and Mrs. Beulah Ivory — an entrepreneur and an educator from the area of Camden,” according to the release.


AAHCC has received grants and funds from The Camden A/P Commission, and Arkansas History Commission (Black History Commission – Curtis Sykes Grant). Calahan stated the future of the Commission looks bright. Various projects are in the planning stages, which will expand the base to other towns and communities in and around Ouachita County.


Details: facebook.com/AAHCC, or call Terry Calahan, 870-836-8773;or Stephone Avery, 870-833-0661.