By Jackie Hampton,
For more than 30 years, the ladies of the Forward Lookers Federated Club has hosted an annual heritage luncheon during Black History Month. This year was no different, as this marked 32 years of service for these leading and linked ladies.
On the morning of Feb. 3, the Jackson State University Center ballrooms were transformed into an oasis of purple and blue, signifying loyalty and wisdom as hundreds of ladies and men gathered for this annual celebration.
During the luncheon two $1500 scholarships were presented by Carol Cooper, immediate past president of the Forward Lookers Federated Club. The recipients of the scholarships were Javon Allen Cross of Tougaloo College and Rachel Lewis of Mississippi Valley State University.
Cross is a 2013 graduate of Greenwood High School in Greenwood, Miss. He attended Holmes Community College where he earned an associate arts degree in pre-occupational therapy. He is an elementary education major.
Lewis is a graduate of John L. Mclaurin High School in Little Rock, Ark. She was recruited by MVSU in 2016 because of her leadership skills, community involvement and musical talents. She is also an elementary education major.
The highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of three prestigious awards by Evelyn Legette, also a former president of the Forward Lookers Federated Club.
Violet Estell Williams was the recipient of the Uplift Award. During the 60’s Williams was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. She participated in the March on Washington, the Mississippi March and was among the attendees of the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She also worked with the Young Freedom Riders from the East. She graduated from Tougaloo College Daniel Hand Prep High School and continued her education at Jackson College where she received a bachelor of science degree. In 1968 she was the first woman of color employed by the Jackson Public School District. In her first three years she was awarded “Teacher of the Year.”
John Perkins was the recipient of the Heritage Award. He is a civil rights legend, well known for being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. Perkins is a minister and an author of a plethora of books. He is a victim of abuse that has survived and thrived without becoming bitter. He received limited formal education but is the recipient of 13 honorary doctorate degrees.
Audrey Bernice Wiley has been described as the epitome of service. Whether it is in the community providing comfort and professionalism to grieving families, cooking and serving a delicious meal at special events, or giving of her time, talent and treasure through community and church events, Wiley believes in living out the words of the hymn “If I Can Help Somebody as I Pass Along.” Wiley is a graduate of Jackson State University with degrees in education and business. Wiley, a local entrepreneur, is co-owner of Westhaven Memorial Funeral Home.
Pastor C. J. Rhodes was the guest speaker. In his speech he said, “I will submit to you that the way this federation will sustain its’ work is by doing the very thing that is in your name, by continuing to look ‘forward.’”
He gave the analogy of driving a car or truck. “You have three primary pieces of glass: the rear view mirror, side mirror and the windshield. He said the rear and side mirrors are important but they are smaller for a reason, and one should not look through those mirrors very long. He said, “You have to keep your eyes on the road in front of you.”
He said it is good to look back from time to time so that you will know what can derail you; but if you only look back, you may wreck your vehicle. “Therefore, Rhodes stated, “one must continue to make present day history, otherwise, there is a risk of wrecking the successes and progresses of the journey.
See photos on page 16.