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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Congress Gets First African-American Chaplain

Aired July 7, 2003 - 19:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Today was a historic day for the United States Senate. For the first time, the Senate has an African- American chaplain. He's also the first military chaplain to hold the post and the first Seventh Day Adventist.
CNN's Kathleen Koch now has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARRY BLACK, CONGRESSIONAL CHAPLAIN: In the name of the one who fills our hearts with peace...

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Simple words making history from Barry Black, Congress' first African-American chaplain.

Just three years ago, he became the Navy's first African-American chief of chaplains, called on to speak at times of national mourning.

BLACK: Weeping may endure for a night. But joy comes in the morning.

KOCH: From the USS Cole memorial to Pentagon 9/11 ceremonies.

BLACK: Help us never to forget our September 11 wakeup call.

KOCH: For 27 years, the military has been his life.

BLACK: This place is like having a family.

KOCH: Black has three masters degrees, two Ph.D.s, and nonetheless gets questions about whether Republicans trying to appear inclusive chose him because of his race.

BLACK: I think 27 years of professional military chaplaincy experience, going from a lieutenant JG to a two-star admiral, probably, those were some of the factors that they considered. So I don't think that race with a critical factor at all.

KOCH: Facing and overcoming challenges is something Black learned as a boy, growing up in this now abandoned Baltimore public housing project. His mother, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, raised him and his seven siblings.

Black is now married and has three sons of his own. A wall in his office is a photo gallery of great ministerial moments. BLACK: This is camp David. I preached there.

KOCH: Black officiated at JFK Jr.'s sea burial. Perhaps most cherished, the times he prepared U.S. forces for combat, even death.

BLACK: This one, the picture here aboard the bunker hill, you're able to pour out your heart to these young people and they are listening.

KOCH: A military man of God, taking on a new mission.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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