MT. VERNON — The 16th annual Jefferson County African-American Heritage Committee Gala will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn.
This year’s celebration will feature keynote speaker Christopher Swims, the senior pastor at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Carbondale.
Swims said his presentation will deal with the significance of the family and more specifically the need for fathers to take an active role in raising their children. He said the topic fits in with the theme of this year’s gala — “Family: The Foundation of Mankind.”
“I just want to deal with that — the importance of family and the importance of fathers,” Swims said. “When that male presence is not there, the family is wide open.”
But when a child does not have a father present, it is also the community and church’s responsibility to provide mentorship and guidance to them, Swims said.
“We all have that calling, that mandate, to be able to do that,” Swims said. “It’s everybody’s responsibility.”
Cleo Holt, president of the African-American Heritage Committee, said hopes are high that Swims will deliver a lively and inspirational speech.
“We know him and every year we try to look for individuals that we are familiar with, and so he was one of the ones that had been on our list for a while,” Holt said of Swims. “He’s a young minister out of Carbondale and he will give a good presentation.”
The annual gala aims to provide an evening of celebration and spiritual uplift through speakers, musical performances, and award and scholarship presentations.
This year, three local residents will receive Heritage Awards at the gala. They include Alis Jones, Keisha Nelson and Robert Brown Jr.
In addition Saturday, three honorary awardees will be recognized and four Special Recognition Awards will be given.