OGDEN -- A parade of members dressed as brave souls who have influenced the path of human rights in America was part of a special service last Saturday at the Embry Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"We are here to remember those who have blazed the trail for us through their blood, sweat and tears, even their lives, that we might have the rights, even the human rights, that we deserve," said Frances Coates during the church's black history celebration.
The program combined the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The event included a monetary gift from the members of the church to the Ogden NAACP organization, a group that claimed more members from the Embry Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church than from any other source.
"The NAACP stood tall during some of the darkest times of our nation," said Peggy Wright, the first lady of the congregation.
The celebration included presentations of gospel music from Embry members, as well as those from other African-American churches in the area.
One lively rendition was from a men's chorus from New Zion Baptist Church. They sang: "Give me that old-time religion. It's good enough for me."
And the celebration included a point that not only blacks have pursued equality for human rights, especially concerning African-Americans.
Summer Green, a white woman who attends services at the church, represented Mary White Ovington in her presentation. Ovington, a journalist, was born in 1865 in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was an American suffragist and co-founder of the NAACP.
Green told of how Ovington's life changed when she read an article about seven deaths and the destruction of 40 businesses by those who acted out of hatred for people because of the color of their skin.
"I wanted blacks to understand that there were whites who hated race oppression," Green said as Ovington.
Tina Dixon presented herself as Rosa Parks.
"I was tired. My feet were hurting and I wanted to go home," Dixon said in Parks' voice as she explained her decision, on Dec. 1, 1955, as an ordinary 42-year-old to challenge authority, leading to her arrest for violation of a city ordinance. Her crime was asking for a seat on a bus normally reserved for white people.
As Parks, Dixon said she just wanted to be treated as an equal and not be judged by the color of her skin.
As others joined her plight and she became recognized for her efforts, Parks became known as the mother of the civil rights movement, Dixon explained.
Some of those honored were contemporaries.
Leann Coates represented Vernice Armour. Armour, born in 1973, is a former United States Marine Corps officer who was the first African-American female naval aviator in the Marine Corps and the first African-American female combat pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces, Coates said.
She flew the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and eventually served two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Also honored was Michelle Obama.
Da'Sha S. Coates' presentation of America's first lady was a favorite of the day as it was highlighted by members posing as secret service people to clear the way for her to enter the stage.
Coates talked about the first lady's start as a gifted student who made her way to both Princeton and Harvard Law School and then meeting her husband at a law firm.
* Joseph Nichols, president of Ogden's branch of the NAACP, was honored by Marshall Green. Nichols was honored for many accomplishments, including his work in the U.S. Air Force and for his church service.
* Luke Hansen portrayed James Jim Kirkham, who represented the Ogden NAACP for many years. Hansen said Kirkham was moved by the treatment of Jewish people in internment camps during World War II. He had also worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Embry Chapel Africal Methodist Episcopal Church is located at 264 30th St., Ogden. For information, call the church at 801-394-2338 or send an email to assistantEM@embrychapel.org.
Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE.