Black History Month: Mark Cancia

JACKSON, Tenn. — Each week in February, WBBJ  7 Eyewitness News is celebrating Black History Month by telling the story of West Tennesseans, and it is sponsored by the Tennessee Education Lottery.

Lt. Mark Cancia

Mark Cancia was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida.

For the last year and a half he has lived in the Hub City and has taken on the role as the first-ever Black officer of the Salvation Army in Jackson.

His passion for wanting to help others started at a young age.

“Growing up I was a product of the Salvation Army’s ministry. I went to summer camp as a child. My first job was at a summer camp and just seeing the ministry of the Salvation Army, seeing what we got to do, knowing that it was more about helping others than it was about one’s self. I was attracted to the organization and attracted to doing ministry with an organization like this,” Cancia said.

Cancia says the overall goal at the end of the day is ensuring those around him are well cared for.

“Whatever program it is that we do, whether it be for the youth and their own character development, or whether it be for seniors, I think the goal always is to allow the lives that we interact with, that I interact with, to be enriched,” he said.

He says being the first Black officer brings a mix of emotions, but overall, he is just thankful that he can follow through with the Salvation Army’s ministry.

“We just completed our Red Kettle Campaign, where we’re raising funds to be able to support or serve our community, and it was a success. We exceeded our goal, and so regardless of me being the first, just knowing that people support what we do is a blessing. It definitely helps my relationship with God because it’s like, ‘Alright God, you’re working and you’re using me to do that,'” Cancia said.

Cancia says Black History Month celebrates the experiences and culture of African Americans.

“The month of February is a time that we can celebrate what we have done, consider what challenges we have endured and just really focus on the future and just continuing to live lives that benefit others,” Cancia said.

Cancia was asked if he had to choose one person dead or alive who would be his favorite Back historian.

“I really like Harriet Tubman. The way that she lived her life, just kind of sacrificially, where she didn’t focus on the fears and what ifs, but she focused on the future and what could be. She looked out for others and brought others to freedom, and so when I think of the Black experience, Black history or even historian like, Harriet,” Cancia said.

Cancia says the pandemic has put into reality that life isn’t promised.

He wants to show up each and every day living faithful with all that God has given him for whatever comes next.

You can find Black History Month highlights of Ronald Benton, and Bobby Deberry on our website.

You can find more local news through the WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News app.

Categories: Black History Month, Local News, Madison County, News, Video