When eight-year old Kelsey Franklin accepted her cousin’s invitation to Vacation Bible School she had no idea that decision would help make her a star. “All I planned to do was go to VBS at Sweet Union Baptist Church,” she said. But the little starlet ended up doing a whole lot more.

You see, this year a Black History component was included in the Vacation Bible School curriculum, according to Pamelia Frankin Adams, junior class teacher (and Kelsey’s aunt).

“I love Texas history and celebrating Juneteenth, so it was a win-win situation for me,” the first year VBS teacher said. “It was great sharing the message of Christ as well as our rich African-American heritage with my students.”

Ms. Adams said when her church received an invitation to participate in the Juneteenth parade, she and fellow members, like Phyllis Johnson, musician at Sweet Union Baptist Church, met to discuss what they could do to support this worthwhile community event organized by the Unity Committee.

Ms. Johnson was motivated by the number of different community churches represented by the students attending Vacation Bible School at Sweet Union to do something special.

“I enjoyed the children and teaching them Negro spirituals (during the music portion of Vacation Bible School,) so much that I knew I had to find a way to continue this experience,” Johnson said.

Her idea was to direct the children in a play, but not just any play — a Juneteenth-inspired theatrical production detailing the story of a little slave girl name Minty and her quest to find the hidden messages contained in patchwork quilts and Negro spirituals like, “Follow the Drinking Gourd” that held directions for slaves following the Underground Railroad to freedom.

When Kelsey found out she got the lead role of Minty, she said she was happy, but surprised.

“I just knew one of the girls from Sweet Union would get the lead,” she reasoned. “After all the play was sponsored by their church and I’m a member of Jerusalem Baptist.”

It didn’t take long for Kelsey and the other actors to realize that it didn’t matter.

“I’m just so happy to be in Ms. Phyllis’ play,” Kelsey said.

Kelsey wasn’t the only one happy. Although “Follow the Drinking Gourd” was performed last month at Sweet Union Baptist Church located at 302 N. Main Street, the performers will be reprising their roles in February 2007 in conjunction with Citywide Black History Month activities.

Others in the cast included Patricia Henderson, Carissa Mitchell, Collin Wallace, Deigo Lewis, Jordan Adams, Justin Adams, Karletta Thirkill, Ashley Thirkill, Kaytrese Clayborne, Nicosha Clayborne; the Angels of Praise, with Leiyana Lyons, Quandasha Scott, Xavier Matthews, Lauryne Lyons, Nicosha Clayborne, Kaytrese Clayborne and Tajae Ellis-Brown; and lighting help from Billy Williams.

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