African-Americans united by common goal

Published 5:09 am Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Rev. Alfred D. Brown Sr., senior pastor at Piney Grove Baptist Church, stands with youth who have earned their places in a recent academic honor roll. From left to right after him are Imani Epps, Alfred Brown, Angel Spratley, Anthony Elder, Tyshon Leonard, Jaylah Green, Shamaree Birden, Avery Williams and Arianna Picot. Not picured is Zeida Epps. — Stephen H. Cowles Tidewater News

Descendant of Nat Turner speaks again at Piney Grove Baptist

The congregation of Piney Grove Baptist Church hosted Bruce Turner last Sunday for its annual Black History Month program. Turner, a direct descendant of the renowned Southampton County preacher and insurrectionist Nat Turner, was the guest speaker at last year’s program.

He said there are “uncountable contributions by unknown African-Americans.” But they have something in common with those individuals who have well-known names such as Nat Turner of Harriet Tubman. The same theme, the same goal, emerges: All. Here. Now.

All people who are Here and seek freedom, equality and justice Now.

Bruce Turner, who lives in Virginia Beach, referenced overlooked individuals in history. People such as Pedro Alonso Nino, a Moor who piloted one of the Christopher Columbus’ ships in the 1492 voyage and later other adventures of his own.

Crispus Attucks is remembered chiefly as been the first American killed in the Boston massacre of on March 5, 1770.

A black slave who traveled with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their famous expedition across the country to the Pacific is known only by one name: York. Turner said the man reportedly never got his promised freedom from Clark after their adventure. [Editor’s note: notes that one source stated that happened between 1811-1815.]

While many people are familiar with Robert Peary, credited as being the first man to reach the North Pole, Turner said it was the black explorer Matthew Henson who was the first in 1909.

Turner referred to an influential African-American in his own life: Sgt. Fred Nottingham, who served in the Army during WWII. Afterward, he went into education and at one time was the principal at Turner’s elementary school in the late 1950s.

Colin Powell, a four-star general and later a secretary of state, was reportedly inspired by Nottingham.

Again and again, the speaker reiterated his theme of how such people are united with All. Here. Now.

“All rights. All here. All now,” he said.

Pastor Alfred D. Brown then told the congregation, “Just because you’re not in the history books doesn’t mean you aren’t important.”

Following the speaker, several church youth were recognized for earning a place in their school honor rolls: Arianna Picot, Avery Williams, Shamaree Birden, Tyshon Leonard, Anthony Elder, Angel Spratley, Alfred Brown, Imani Epps and Zeida Epps.