Former D.C. school board president Dr. Therman E. Evans returned to Washington Sunday with a provocative message as guest speaker at the homecoming celebration of Lincoln Congregational Temple, llth and R streets NW.
With "Roots Revisited" as his theme and "Let's go home" as his refrain, Evans, now a Hartford, Conn., insurance executive, exhorted his 800 listeners to return to the values of self-respect and regard for one another.
"We are in black skins," said Evans, 39, a Howard University-trained pediatrician, "but we are not at home with blackness. We have been socialized away from who we are and the change must come from inside out, not outside in."
Although he is not a preacher, Evans delivered a ringing sermon, often using anecdotes and humor to relieve the tension his challenges seemed to create in the audience. His listeners responded with applause, laughter and resonant amens.
Blacks have become "consumption oriented" and have lost their concern for community, he told his listeners, urging them to once again take control of their lives.
Lincoln Temple pastor Benjamin E. Lewis introduced Evans as "a powerful, committed Christian," with whom he had worked when Evans was president of the Washington chapter of Chicago-based Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity).
Evans' two years as president of the school board, 1976-78, have been called "the quiet years" because they followed a tumultuous era of factional infighting among board members during which the city hired six school superintendents in 10 years.
Evans declined to seek reelection in 1978 and discouraged suggestions he run for higher office for reasons he said were financial. He left Washington in March l979 to become assistant medical director for the Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. in Hartford. He is now the company's vice president and medical director.
"Right now, I am very satisfied with my life," Evans said after his speech. "This is my first experience with the private sector and its tremendous impact on every aspect of our lives. . . . For generations, we (blacks) have a history of being too dependent on the government, relying on it to protect us. If anything is going to be done to change our situation, we will have to do it."