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The student news site of Los Medanos College


The student news site of Los Medanos College


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29th/30th Gospel Concert creates deafening cheers

Audience celebrates professor’s career
Colin Wainwright
Professor Silvester Carl Henderson expresses his appreciation to the audience.

An excited crowd filled the Los Medanos Recital Hall Nov. 18 for the 29th/30th Gospel Celebration Concert. The concert celebrated the work of music educator and choir director Professor Silvester Carl Henderson, who is retiring this year. 

As an educator for over 40 years – with 30 of those years being at LMC – Professor Henderson is a beloved member of the community. His passion for music and his dedication to helping young people and ensuring a quality education for African American students has left a lasting impression on those around him.  

A program guide made available to guests at the door contained a monolithic compilation of Henderson’s prestigious awards and accomplishments. Spanning multiple pages, the guide detailed the professor’s history of national recognition for his feats as an educator, business owner, motivational speaker and musician. In addition, it included his work as an activist focusing on faculty diversity, foster youth, inmate education and expanding academic opportunities for African American men. 

The concert began at 5 p.m. with a warm and heartfelt introduction from Reverend Martin Lawson, a long-time friend of Henderson.

He described the professor as “someone who is near and dear to all of our hearts. A man that has given as much as he can give, and once he’s got to the point where he doesn’t have any more to give, he keeps on giving.”

Lawson demonstrated the impact Henderson has had on his life and stressed the value of having such a genuine friend. He spoke of the concept of “double honor” within The Bible – the idea that someone who has gone above and beyond has earned more respect than a single honor. 

“Silvester Carl Henderson… His life, his work, what he’s done that we’ve all witnessed for 40 plus years speaks for itself. And on this day, those of you that are in here with me, we are showing him that he is worthy of double honor,” said Lawson.

Henderson was then welcomed to the Recital Hall with thunderous applause. He walked down the aisle in a white suit, surrounded by an outpouring of love and appreciation. He took his seat in the front row and watched as the program continued.

The concert featured an ensemble of talented performers from all walks of life, interspersed with speeches, messages and sincere thank yous from those Henderson holds dear. Former students, cherished friends, family, colleagues and members of the Palma Ceia Baptist Church all took to the stage to wish Henderson congratulations on his retirement and a lifetime of monumental successes.  

Henderson was presented with several awards, including one bestowed upon him by Pittsburg Mayor Shanelle Scales-Preston.

Songs were performed by the Los Medanos College Alumni Chamber Chorale, the Los Medanos College Alumni Gospel Choir and the UC Berkeley Alumni Young Inspiration Gospel Choir – where Professor Henderson served as the acclaimed director from 1985 to 2005. The event also hosted special guest performances by Titus Starks and the Sons of Mr. Gospel.

Near the end of the concert, a touched Professor Henderson took to the stage.

“I am just deeply overwhelmed. You know most of the time, when people retire, they never have these sort of celebrations. I am just really, really touched,” said Henderson. 

He went on to illustrate his journey as an educator, alongside the challenges and triumphs that came along with it. He shared how he was, at first, reluctant to teach at LMC. Having already taught at Berkeley for many years, he didn’t know anything about LMC. Community college did not carry the same sort of weight or academic prestige – until he gave it a shot. 

Henderson discovered that the environment fostered at LMC was unique – classes were smaller, and students were more involved, sticking around the classroom long after the lecture concluded. He described the experience as a miracle.

“I realized that they were really mesmerized by me, and I realized that community college was the perfect place for me to be,” Henderson said. “[LMC] became the perfect place for working in the community, and my experience at the community college is one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the world.”

Afterward, the audience welcomed an ensemble performance featuring Henderson and the rest of the choirs. The positivity in the air was infectious as the crowd stood to clap and sing along with them. Nearly four hours after the concert began, the music concluded with near deafening cheers and applause. 

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Colin Wainwright
Colin Wainwright, Staff Writer

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