In this year’s Black History Month celebration, once again Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University sponsored a discussion relating to black churches and their influence in the community and modern culture with the question: “Were you raised in a black church?”
The discussion was held at the Black Cultural Center in Squires Student Center with about 20 students from two other Christian groups including Phi Gamma Christian Fraternity and Impact campus ministries.
Junior BIT and management double major Tarvaris McCoy said the discussion was so popular last year they had to host it again.
“ We are here to facilitate the needs of the black community … if this is a topic they want covered, we are here to cover it” McCoy said.
Many black students voiced their opinions about the influence of black church in the U.S. history.
“In the (1960’s) the black church was so important … most civil rights marches started there.” said Bryan Davis, Alpha Phi Alpha president and a senior management major. “The church is where everybody went when they had problems … it’s (also) where town meetings took place,” he said.
McCoy saw church music as the most prominent cultural influence. “From the way a preacher preaches in a rhythmic voice, to all church songs … the influence is seen,” McCoy said, “Slaves sang a lot of spiritual music. About every two out of five R&B singers started singing in their churches at home … our lives are definitely affected by that.”
Not only the students discussed about the influence of church but they also addressed the problems of today’s college students in practicing their faith since the number of students committing themselves to attend church is decreasing.
Melvin Allen, a junior criminal justice and political science double major at Radford said some students avoid going to church because they feel uncomfortable in a foreign establishment.
“You can’t just come to a church and be automatically ingrained in what they do,” Allen said, “You want to be around what you are accustomed too.”