By Janice K. Neal-Vincent, Ph.D.
Words of inspiration were heard by attendees of the National Council of Negro Women Metro Jackson Chapter’s 13th Legacy Awards Breakfast Saturday at Jackson State University Student Center.
Michael Walker, executive director of external affairs for AT&T Mississippi, was the guest speaker. Walker called attention to the organization’s history and encouraged the women to continue to build upon their legacy in the future.
“Everything is based on sharing,” Walker said. He reminded the audience of Mary McCloud Bethune’s fight to build a better future for black girls and boys with one of her quotes: “The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his (her) worth.”
Bethune, a distinguished educator and government consultant, founded the NCNW in 1935. Walker said, “(We’re) dealing with the same populace: people who need guidance, people who desire to have a better life.”
In his speech, Walker encouraged NCNW to envision what the organization would look like 50 years from now. To pass the legacy on, he said, means to be “unselfish by improving life for and with those who have so much to give but are never given the opportunity.” Creating, nurturing, and giving hope to another generation were highlighted as cornerstones for progress. Walker noted that once those cornerstones are set in place, NCNW would be able to “feel” the legacy as “discipline” and “guidance” would serve as overarching elements for youth cultivation and assimilation.
One way the local chapter makes a difference in the lives of youth is by adopting Watkins Elementary School, according to Mattie Stevens, chapter president. At Watkins, chapter members read to students, provide receptions for them, and provide scholastic services (supplies, etc.).
“Through Farish Street Baptist Church I coordinate the Adopt a School Program for Rowan Middle School. We support the Technology Science Association Program whereby students join the National Academy and use robots to create technology. We provide workshops in education, economic awareness, and health issues for parents and students,” Stevens said.
The community breakfast featured local talent. In honor of Dr. Jessie Bryant Mosley, co-founder of Smith Robertson Museum, a paraphrased version of Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” was written by Ada Miller Robinson and performed by Ke’Anna Boone of Northwest Middle School. Anointed 2 Praise rendered musical selections such as William McDowell’s “I Won’t go Back to the Way I Used to Be” and classical songs by Ladybird DeAnna Tisdale.
NCNW also awarded four women for their contributions to humankind.
Cherri Green, chosen as the outstanding section member, received the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Award. The Dr. Dorothy I. Height Award for outstanding leadership was presented to Pat Sanders-Ford. The Dr. Jessie B. Mosley outstanding community service Award was presented to Evangelist Lorraine Bishop. The Clarie Collins-Harvey Award was presented to businesswoman and Jackson Public School Board President Bernita Burt.
The signature events for youth awareness and participation of NCNW’s local chapter include the Legacy Breakfast held in November, Youth Summit held in February and the Founders Day Program held in April. All events are aligned to Bethune’s philosophical vision for youth success.
Stevens put it this way, “I would say that Bethune’s legacy says we’re responsible for the children, the future, and the ones to run the country. We need to teach, nurture, and support them as Bethune advocated.”
The NCNW is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington D.C. that reaches nearly 4 million women who seek peaceful means of human welfare and rights.
The Metro Jackson chapter of NCNW has 48 active members. One of the local chapter’s missions is “to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African-American women, their families and communities.”
Individuals interested in becoming members of the NCNW should contact Stevens at (601) 287-1503 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.