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It took that long for the news of freedom to get to the slaves in the South. Though there where glitches to the emancipation proclamation, some of the slaves gained and enjoyed their freedom immediately. Today, we as a nation celebrate this freedom from our ugly past and in doing so we rekindle hope for the future in the celebration. We also tell our story to remember and encourage each other to hold on by honoring those among our children who have done exceptionally well in academics.

 We do so through our Father Joseph Bell Memorial Scholarship; a scholarship awarded to those attending one of our Catholic high schools in the diocese. So on June 8, we invite all who can to come and join us in this mindful and yet wonderful celebration. We will be at Blessed John XXIII in Rialto: 222 Easton Street; from 1-4 p.m. 

 In the same spirit, the Year of Faith has called us to find our faith again; and this time, we will be stepping back to look at our lives before our faith was formed. We will be exploring a discussion that most black people have had but maybe not in public. In the pursuit to deepen our faith and our understanding of our faith, we truly want to start with the basics of first looking at ourselves and our understanding of ourselves and of each other. To prepare a fertile ground we have to step into a space that will enable such work to begin. So, we invited two experts from Northern California who have been leading this discussion throughout the country, to bring it to our diocese. It will be a discussion not of spirituality, but of mere understanding, not of who is right or wrong but just to listen. A space of question and answer, which hopefully will come out of a search to understand will be created. 

 This African Diaspora Dialogue as we have named it will take place on Saturday, June 15 from 10 am until 2 pm at St. Anthony Hall, 1640 Western Avenue in San Bernardino. 

David Okonkwo is the director of the diocesan Office of Catholics of African Descent.