23 Feb Black History Month Highlight: First Lady Felicia Brinkley
A Small but Mighty Civil Rights Tradition
First Lady Felica Brinkley, Church administrator at Baptist Love Ministry
Baptist Love Ministry celebrated its 34th year in the Jacksonville community last month. First Lady Felica Brinkley and Pastor Ernest Brinkley run the church.
What is Baptist Love Ministry’s history in Jacksonville’s civil rights movement?
Pastor Wilcox was our founder. He was a Civil Rights leader in Jacksonville, Florida. He would arrange meetings here for the SCLC.
He did preach the Word, but his passion was civil rights. He would go into the trenches, and I remember Sister Wilcox telling us he’d be on the front line when they were having the sit-outs. And he was standing up for their rights (when) he got arrested. He comes back, and then he’d get out there, and he’d go again.
He stood by what he believed, but he also wanted to make sure that we Black people were educated. And that they knew that they did have rights. He was trying to teach them how to stand up for themselves.
(Today, at the church) we want people to say, “I was treated like somebody. I felt like I wasn’t judged on what I had on or what I didn’t have on. That (I wasn’t judged) for what I have.”
How does Baptist Love Ministry give back to its community?
We are a 4-H (non-profit youth program). How we participate is driven by the youth. We let them find their interest as to what they want to do. Now, (children are interested in) bugs and animals and horses. We did the baby chick embryo project. We did the butterfly project twice.
Additionally, as soon as we plant in the ground, we will officially become a small farm. We did collard greens, lettuce, bell peppers, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and tomatoes. We did the cherry and regular tomatoes, and the tomatoes took over everything. The biggest thing we got out of all of it was seeing the process of the fruits, vegetables, and everything growing.
The purpose of our farm in is to teach folks to go back to what we should be doing. (Which is) growing our own food. We are showing them how they can get their own herb gardens at their homes.
The Lord blessed us to build on his land.
How has your partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida helped you on your mission?
We did a drive-through food giveaway. And this lady came through. My husband (Pastor Brinkley) shakes everybody’s hand that drives through. And (one particular) lady said, “Can I hug you?” She said, “Thank you. I don’t know where my next meal was going to come from.” And she was crying. She said, “Y’all are doing something so fantastic for the community. Thank you so much for doing this.” (This moment) really, really got to (Pastor Brinkley). He’s always wanted to do (a soup kitchen) since we’ve been here; it’s all he’s been talking about. I told him I didn’t think we couldn’t do a soup kitchen because the (building) needed work. So, he said, “Why can’t we have a pantry?”
So, I started looking and researching found Feeding Northeast Florida. Today, our name is BOWL food pantry. It stands for Blessing Others With Love, food pantry. We are small, but we’re big at heart. We put more than 100% into it. Yeah, we put our hearts into it.