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Churches honor Black History Month with contemporary dance

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February is Black History Month and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech kicked off the historic month in Killeen during an interpretive dance performance.

To honor the history of African American heritage, Austin's Liturgical Praise Dance Ministry, of Holy Cross Catholic Church, showed that there's more than one way to bring awareness to the past, present and future of African Americans.

St. Joseph's Church was surging with fellowship, creativity and history. The dance ministry performed to a monumental piece of history, interpreted with a contemporary twist.

"We choreographed the song for Black History Month, and we liked this song because it represents the speech with contemporary music," Lena Brown-Owens with Holy Cross Catholic Church in Austin said.

They intended to engage a younger crowd at St. Joseph's Catholic Church through spirituality and movement.

Brandi Tennant is a member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and she said it's a unique experience.

"We're also incorporating a religious aspect to it, so it's not just the history, but it's a spiritual combination. It's a special experience," she said.

The Killeen congregation and the performers from Austin's Liturgical Praise Dance Ministry focused on more than African Americans on the first day of Black History Month.

"That's why we do the holding hands and bringing it up, and then we reach out just to show that we're loving everybody, and we're bringing everybody in," Brown-Owens said.

Although it's St. Joseph's sixth annual celebration, this year's was different.

Tennant said it was emotional for her. Recognizing Black History Month for her evokes a stronger feeling about the month's significance, she said.

"It makes me step back and realize everything that a lot of people went through, in order for me to be where I am, and in order for me to achieve what I've achieved, and do the things I do every day ... going into places that normally I wouldn't have been able to go through unless someone had fought those battles for me," she said.

It's a message Tennant hopes will resonate through praise and dance.

The leader of the Liturgical Praise Dance Ministry, at Holy Cross said nearly 5 percent of Catholics in the Austin diocese are African American. It's not a large number, she said, but more than you might have thought.

Black History Month, has been celebrated as a month long celebration, since 1976. Black History Month was established in 1976, as an evolution of Negro History Week.

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