A Month … And All Year Long

BLACK HISTORY MONTH iStock 1352534769

February. Black History Month. Its 1915, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, historian and author, established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASALH).* This cultural heritage period was first observed as Black History Week.

The first Black History Month proclamation was signed by President Gerald Ford in 1976. Subsequent U.S. presidents have signed proclamations encouraging the celebration of the contributions that Black men and women have made to the United States.

Robert Page Fotor
Robert Page

As we celebrate Black History Month and the contributions of Black men and women to the cultural montage of America’s story, Christian and Missionary Alliance history includes a chapter on Robert Page, the first Black Alliance missionary.

An 1890 alumnus of the Missionary Training Institute (precursor of Nyack College), he was the lone Black missionary among nearly two dozen others who traveled abroad to serve. Mr. Page’s assignment in 1892 was to the Congo where he is reported to have been responsible for young orphan boys. He taught in the first Alliance mission school in addition to carrying out his evangelistic duties. Just five years later he was back in the United States on furlough attending conventions and prayer gatherings.

His return to the Congo in 1901 found him dedicated to continuing to share the Gospel from village to village. In 1904 and sadly, in failing health, Robert Page served until the summer of that year and was again furloughed.

Though little is documented about him beyond his final furlough, one wonders what it was like to be “the first” of anything, anywhere while straddling the 19th and 20th centuries.

We celebrate the commitment, the compassion and the endurance of alumnus Robert Page to go into the world to share the Gospel.

* Today Nyack/ATS Director of Academic Affairs Constance Diggs is the vice president of the 107-year-old ASALH’s Manhattan branch.