The retiring head of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights called for a new effort to stop the Trump administration from reversing decades of progress made by people of color at a Masonic Black History Program in the District of Columbia.

Wade Henderson spoke at a Masonic Grand Lodge celebration about the need for Blacks to continue progressing under the new administration. (Courtesy Photo)

From photos of “Colored Only,” signs to pictures of Air Force Gen. Daniel “Chappy” James, to images of President Barack Obama aboard Air Force One, progress was on display at Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Northwest D.C. during a program Feb. 12 sponsored by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of D.C.

The Honorable Phillip David, most worshipful grand master of the lodge, introduced Wade Henderson. “Carter G. Woodson once said and I quote –‘If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much as any other race, he will aspire to equality and justice with regards to race,’” David said.

Henderson said President Trump’s appointment of billionaire Betsy DeVos as secretary of the Department of Education while she is leading the private charter school movement should be a wake up call

“My hope is that the free Masonry movement will come back to its roots in the Civil Rights movement. . . .There are challenges to be met but you are capable to meet those challenges,” Henderson said. “Those who came before you faced more difficult times and were able to succeed and you have that opportunity.”

The theme of overcoming racial inequity was also echoed during a Black History Month program at the East Capitol Street Church of Christ in Northeast, D.C. where playwright Angela Davis put on a production that included poetry, music and a dramatic skit that featured the children of the church.  “Everybody is important to God. When we get to Heaven it will not be based on race,” Daniel Lester, minister of the church, said.

In addition to the production, several family members of Black history icons sat in the pews, including Karen Gray Houston, former Fox TV reporter, whose uncle, Fred Gray, was Rosa Parks’ lawyer, and Marlene Dortch, secretary of the FCC, whose grandfather was famed Olympian Jesse Owens.