2023 Black History Month Celebration

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The State of Missouri welcomes you to our 2023 Black History Month Celebration!

February 23, 2023 at 1:30 PM
Harry S. Truman Building – Room 490/492

It’s an honor to have you join us for this occasion, and we encourage you to share, use our hashtags, and invite a guest.

Keynote Speaker: Pastor Charles R. Jackson

Pastor Charles R. Jackson

This year, the state of Missouri welcomes home Pastor Charles R. Jackson, former Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Before his retirement, Jackson served the state for more than thirty years in a variety of positions pertaining to a strong community interface. However, he is best known as the Founding Pastor of the Guiding Light Missionary Baptist Church of Christ in Fulton, Missouri.

Pastor Jackson was first called to the ministry in 1991. After being ordained the following year, he immediately began his services as an interim pastor at a local church before receiving a vision in 1994. This vision led him to the founding of The Guiding Light Missionary Baptist Church in 1996. Along with the creation of his church, Jackson has continued to live his life with a focus on serving God through service to others.

In 1986, Jackson founded a Black state troopers self-help organization called the Central States Troopers Coalition. Today, it is known as the National Black Troopers Coalition. During the 1990s, Jackson took high school students to historical Black colleges in an effort to encourage them to seek higher education. The results of his efforts culminated in several students completing degrees and living productive lives with successful careers.

Most recently, he sought and was granted permission by Jefferson City Municipal Court Judge Cotton Walker to serve as an advocate for youth. This mainly consisted of encouraging and assisting them to correct the issues that brought the youth to court. Since his involvement in 2016, the program has expanded to the coordination of representatives from community-based services to help people resolve challenges to life issues.

Since retiring from the State of Missouri, Jackson has served on the Missouri Public Defender’s Commission and on the Department of Corrections Sentencing Advisory Committee. As the years pass, he continues to live his life for God and the community. He has a loving wife, two sons and a daughter. However, he says he has many surrogate children through the ministry.

Special Performance: Dr. Alphonso Sanders

Dr. Alphonso Sanders

A multi-instrumentalist freelance musician, lecturer, and consultant. As an educator he has served as Provost and Vice President for Student Afairs at Lincoln University, MO; the Chair of Fine Arts and Director of the BB King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University; and Director of Jazz Bands and Founding Director of the Delta Music Institute (DMI) at Delta State University. He is a graduate of Mississippi Valley State University, Valdosta State University, and the University of Mississippi. He has performed with many well know artist at recognized festivals such as the MDBF Blues Festival, Brazil; Netherlands North Sea Jazz Festival; Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival; Lucerne Switzerland Blues Festival; Mobile Jazz Festival; Ontario Canada Southside Shuffle Festival; BB King Homecoming Festival, Indianola, MS; and The Blessissippi Bluesical hosted by Morgan Freeman and explore.org among many other Mississippi Blues Festivals. He has performed with such artist as Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry, Mulgrew Miller, Jerry Jemmot, Rhonda Richmond, Cassandra Wilson, Paula West, Debra Brown, Bobby Rush, David Lee Durham, Mickey Rogers, Terry “Big T” Williams, The Four Tops, David “Honey Boy” Edwards, and Steve Azar among others. 


As a 2006 Fulbright Scholar, he studied abroad in China exploring Chinese music and visual arts. He is recipient of the 2010 MAC Folk Arts Fellowship; the 2011 Mississippi Humanities Award and is published in Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine 2011 (UK); the book “Musicians Up and the Delta”; and “Down in The Woods” a documentary of the legendary bluesman Willie King; and award winner in the 2009 and 2010 International Blues Challenge. He was named Delta Blues Musician of the Year (2013) by the Delta Blues Society. He leads two recordings, Mississippi Influences (2009) and Twice as Nice (2010) and has appeared on many others. He is often a quest artist on Mississippi Thacker Mountain Radio and is the founder (2015) and organizer of the Annual B.B. King Day Symposium, preserving the legacy of B.B. King and the blues. Sanders has recently been appointed as an ambassador for the BB King Museum and appears on the newly recorded Mississippi state song, “One Mississippi”. 

History of Black History Month:

The recognition of African Americans’ contribution to civilization started with Negro History Week in 1925 through the efforts of Carter G. Woodson. At mid-century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all colors on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations.


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