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cover10Story by Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues

Photo Credit: Roger Jackson

Houston – Recently, the Acres Home Chamber for Business and Economic Development Inc. held its Monthly Business Networking Luncheon, located at 6112 Wheatley Street, 77091.

Chairman Roy Douglas Malonson greeted attendees with jokes and hearty one-liners that set the tone for the great food and raffles.

The drawing was full of fun as attendees and tables competed with each other to see how many from each table could win raffle prizes.

Prior to blessing the food, a period of networking went on with each person representing a business, company or education institution giving a brief introduction of their business position and company.

After Pastor Joseph Baker blessed the food, a period of good eating and fellowship with many networking and exchanging business cards, stories and life experiences.

After the meal, Chairman Malonson made special mention of the importance of knowing and understanding history, especially as it relates to pressing matters in the Black community. Among those concerns shared included information on current civil rights, voting issues and equality in education. He noted that too much is taken from granted and more people are needed to take issues serious enough to come off the sidelines and fight to make sacrifices that will improve opportunities for young people.

Attendees were introduced to Civil Rights Freedom fighter and pioneer Dr. Virgil Wood, by Judge and Attorney Warren Fitzgerald Muhammad.

Wood, a great preacher, educator and leader gave the keynote address focusing on examining the state of America and the need to focus on an organized plan to save children and prepare Black people for the future.

Dr. Virgil A. Wood–church leader, educator, and civil rights activist—has committed much of his life’s work to the struggle for economic and spiritual development among the nation’s disadvantaged.

Ordained as a Baptist Minister in his late teens, Dr. Wood has served churches for over 50 years in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Dr. Wood concluded his Pastoral Ministry in 2005 at Pond Street Baptist after serving for 25 years.

Actively involved with the Civil Rights movement, he set up Martin Luther King’s work in Virginia as the Lynchburg Improvement Association. From 1963 to 1970, he led the Blue Hill Christian Center in Boston’s Roxbury community, and headed up the Massachusetts Unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He served on the National Executive Board of the SCLC and coordinated the State of Virginia in the historic “March on Washington” on August 28, 1963.

As Administrator for Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) of America, a job training organization serving disadvantaged and under skilled Americans of all races, he assisted in founding and establishing 13 OIC centers in 8 southern states and in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Wood served as a panelist at 3 White House Conferences under the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter Administrations.

He received a Doctorate of Education from Harvard University. He was Dean and Director of the African American Institute, Associate Professor of Northeastern University in Boston, a Professor at Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, and a visiting Lecturer, Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University.

His publications include “In Love We Trust: Lessons I Learned From Martin Luther King” (2005), “The Jubilee Bible” (originator and contributing editor, 1999 & 2012), and “Introduction to Black Church Economic Studies” (1974).

Wood talk to business owners, government and education officials with candor about the need for an economic awakening that would entail the development of a Black “Think Tank” that could organize a plan to include every level of the community from pastor to parent to community leaders, elected officials and teachers.

“We all should be apart of this,” he said. “There will be no more Martin Luther King Jr’s. Martin would have us today build around a plan and not the man. We must see that the power is in the plan and not the man”

He said the plan must be thorough enough to include Blacks and Whites since the problems have merged both communities and will need attention.

“Black kids are killing each other and White kids are committing suicide,” he said. “We need to come together and solve this so that we can secure the future for all of us.”:

Wood made it clear that nothing is more important than enlisting everyone in what he is calling the “Third and final “Reconstruction” period in Black history.

It is the only way Black America’s children will survive and the only way to overcome the current challenges and widening gaps in education, wages and key to solving issues like the closing of Black schools, redistricting, voter suppression, racism in the criminal justice system, economics, jobs and the absence or lack of true representation and accountability from Black elected officials.

After the message, Chairman Roy Douglas Malonson told the group that Wood’s message was not only powerful, but hit  at the heart of truth and one that should be shared in every community and in every church.

He ended his words on Wood  calling him a true leader whose work is to be commended because of his selfless acts as an agent for change and a coalition builder and serves as an example for all those who aspire to selflessly serve others. He also praised his wife for her efforts to support her husband during very critical periods of Civil Rights and surviving the pressures and temptations placed on her to pressure her husband to stop and leave the struggle.

Chairman Malonson thanked Wood for his long years of service to the community and for carrying the audience through some serious issues little talked about and discussed in the Black community.

In a brilliant move, Chairman Malonson called Pastor and co-Freedom Fighter with Dr. King, Rev. F.N. Williams Sr. to podium to present Wood with his appreciation gift.

Williams noted again, Dr. Wood’s contributions to the movement and said. “We shall forever be grateful for your sacrifices. Your work will always be respected and will never be forgotten.”

Malonson shared the importance of following up on the message after the luncheon and challenged the audience to think about how each could follow up on the ideas Wood presented.

“This is serious,” Malonson said. “We cannot say that it does not affect me because it is someone else. If it affects any Black person on the planet, it affects you and me and you cannot ignore it.”

He was very clear about the role of preachers and politicians and demanded that each reconsider the seriousness of what is happening in the Black community.

“A lot of people died and sacrificed for us to be here,” he said. “We must be held accountable because we are losing our neighborhoods, our communities are dying and our people need help. The time is now to stand up and do something before it is too late.”

The luncheon was closed in prayer, offering supplications to Almighty God and special blessings on efforts to help Black people and the community.

When it comes to understanding history, it was a lesson in life that clearly emphasizes what Chairman Malonson shared and said and that is  to “Please do not forget our history. Forgetting what happened to us can destroy us.”