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posted: 11/5/2012 4:50 PM

African-American military involvement to be highlighted in screening

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Elgin's Second Baptist Church, the oldest African American church in town, has a graduate of West Point Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy. It has people who retired from the armed forces with up to 30 years of service, a woman who reached the rank of major, a number of officers and plenty of active duty personnel.

Leon Montgomery, co-founder of the church's Military Veterans Ministry, said he has only begun to find out what impressive military credentials people within his own congregation have since the ministry formed in March.

When he went to his pastor with the idea for a veterans group, they decided on a full-fledged ministry as a two-part opportunity.

"This is a waste of vital energy and resource if we don't come together under the auspices of the church so we can do 'inreach' in the church and outreach in the community and work with some of the other organizations as they need help to reach out to veterans as well," Montgomery said.

The veterans ministry will host a screening Friday of "For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots," a documentary detailing the involvement of African American military men and women since the time of the Revolutionary War.

Ernie Broadnax, a Marine Corps veteran, showed the movie in two parts in February at Gail Borden Public Library but didn't get as big a crowd as he had hoped. With the newly formed ministry, Broadnax and Montgomery plan to reach more people in the African American veteran community and beyond.

"A lot of this information isn't in our school books or our college books," Broadnax said. "A lot of people think everyone in America should see this movie."

Broadnax said the documentary shows "the good, the bad and the ugly" about black military involvement -- before the country integrated the Army, during the Civil War when white soldiers and officers were hesitant to give black men guns. And he said it should be for more than just the African American community, because it is American history.

The screening event for the first half of the film will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Second Baptist Church, 1280 Summit St., Elgin. Light refreshments will be available before the film and a panel will discuss African American military involvement after the documentary. Beverly Dunjill, a Tuskegee Airman who lives in Chicago, will participate on the panel, as will local military men and women.

The second half of the documentary -- picking up at the end of World War I -- will be screened during Black History Month in February.

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