SARASOTA - Black History Month has now ended, and it has been a time of pride for ABC 7 -- especially our own Dr. Ed James.
Dr. James hosts "Black Almanac," which airs each Sunday morning at 7:30am here on ABC 7. This Sunday's show features highlights of a concert paying tribute to black history on the Suncoast.
Dr. James is a fighter. He's battled for civil rights, equality, and respect for the African American community on the Suncoast all his life. And one very successful way he found to get the black community the credit, the respect, and the admiration they deserve is a Suncoast gospel show.
He first brought the Suncoast Gospel Showcase to ABC 7 in 1999, when the station was sponsoring a lot of community events. "And I noticed those events were mostly white, and I thought what a great thing if we could do at least one event a year for everyone, but would be directed toward the black community."
ABC 7 agreed, and Dr. James produced a gospel concert he named in honor of Mr. Charles D. Wilson, a Suncoast deejay for more than 50 years. "It's a competition concert fundraiser for the local institution. Each church that had a choir in it would be given 200 tickets that they sold and kept the money for their church or organization."
The concerts ended in 2004. But this year Dr. James resurrected them and combined it with Trinity Church's winter concert. It was held at St. James Church with highlights on Dr. James' "Black Almanac” show.
Sarasota vice-mayor Rev. Willie Shaw emceed the event. "The Sarasota-Manatee area has such a treasure trove of gospel and choirs and quartets," says Shaw.
The community loved it. "You have people sitting on the edge of their seats watching and waiting for the next one. You have the engagements of the hand clapping and the foot stamping the patting, you have the move that can only come in a gospel setting."
So is there any chance the concerts will once more become a yearly event? "Stay tuned, there's more to come," says Dr. James.