GALLIPOLIS — Paint Creek Baptist Church will be hosting the 27th Annual Black History Program Feb. 24 and feature Dr. John Mattox, founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum Foundation in Flushing.
The morning will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a concert by local talent and the afternoon will feature Mattox. Mattox received his degree in sociology and psychology from Houston Tillitson College, Austin, Texas.
All are welcome to join the conversation as Mattox shares his knowledge of the Underground Railroad movement and the thousands who escaped slavery. Mattox also served as last year’s Emancipation Celebration Weekend keynote speaker in September 2017 at the Bob Evans Farm.
“I want you to know that there is a lot for you to see,” said Mattox previously of the museum to Emancipation Celebration visitors. “You know that old fable? Don’t want to talk about it? Well let’s talk about it (the challenges of the past). Let’s talk about our ancestors because some of you sitting in front of me seem to be about my age…And what I want you to know is that some of these young children to hear us today are the leaders of tomorrow. We must listen to them even though the things that they say we may not understand.”
Mattox emphasized the needs of education and reunions as a means of keeping the past alive and making certain youth understood where it came from and how that affected their futures.
In a conversational tone, Mattox shared his knowledge of African American history such as how in his studies the country of Ethiopia was the first one named in the Bible. Mattox said the word “seasoning” had changed much with time as it was once originally used to describe the processes used to prepare a slave for auctioning after coming off ship.
“Every one of you can search out your lineage without going to ancestry.com,” said Mattox. “Just find out where those great-great- grandparents came from. I guarantee there was a church there, and if there was a church there, there was a cemetery there. And if there was a cemetery there, there’s names on those stones. You may not find your last name but you’ll find a last name of somebody that still lives in that area. Now, how hard can that be? I’ve given you the (motivation) now take it, and go this way, and this way, and this way.”
Mattox commented on how learning history was much like the Underground Railroad, there was always something new to find when wandering in a new direction.