Ebony committee will honor pioneers
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.
The pioneers being honored at this year's Ebony Appreciation Awards Banquet will feature two female high school students who are excelling in athletics and several professional women and a man who have blazed trails in their respective fields.
What: The 30th annual Ebony Appreciation Awards Banquet.
When: 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Best Western Gateway Grand, 4200 NW 97th Blvd.
Tickets: $40 each or $400 for a table for 10.
Information: Call 352-256-4651.
In its 30th year of existence, the banquet will once again honor, recognize and acknowledge blacks in Alachua County who are pioneers, defined by the Ebony Appreciation Awards Committee Inc. as the first to have made significant contributions in different capacities Alachua County.
The committee also will acknowledge a community service award recipient, three centenarians and a local landmark. The theme this year is "EBONY — 30 Years of Excellence."
"The people we have recognized over the years and the ones we are recognizing this year have portrayed an attitude of excellence," said Bernadette Woody, president of the committee, which sponsors the banquet. "Had it not been for their attitude of excellence, we would not have been able to persevere for 30 years."
The banquet will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Best Western Plus Gateway Grand Hotel at 4200 NW 97th Blvd. Tickets are $40 each or $400 for a table for 10. The deadline to purchase tickets is 5 p.m. Thursday. No tickets will be sold at the door.
The guest speaker will be Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, of whom President Barack Obama has been quoted as saying is "One of a hand full of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens."
The students in this year's class of honorees will be Kalen "JoJo" McGill, the first black fast-pitch starting pitcher on the softball team at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, and Dominique McBroom, the first black goalie on the lacrosse team at Buchholz High School.
Both Kalen and Dominique said they are ecstatic about being honored by the committee.
"I feel it is great that I am being recognized for the hard work I have put in over the years to get to this point," said Kalen, a junior who is being recruited by Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Mississippi State University in Starkeville, Miss. and South Alabama University in Mobile, Ala. "It's difficult being a pitcher, and I have had to put in a lot of hard work to get good at being a pitcher, not just a black pitcher, and it makes me feel real good to receive this honor."
Dominique, a sophomore who also is a team captain, said she was surprised when she found out she was being honored.
"I was so excited that they chose me because I didn't think I would be honored for something like this," said Dominique, who has hopes of attending either Brown University in Providence, R.I., Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., or the University of Florida.
Below is a list of the other honorees:
— Kim Barton: The first ever and only outreach coordinator with the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office.
— Ann Bowens: The first black woman in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Office to deliver a live nationwide televised training course.
— Trávis (pronounced TRAY-vis) King: The first black male judicial assistant in the state of Florida.
— Dr. Carolyn Tucker: The first black UF professor to be honored as a Distinguished Alumni Professor at UF.
In addition, the committee will recognize centenarians. They are: Theodore Dallas, 104, of Levy County; Ethel Mae Davis Weaver, 101, and Martha Franklin, 101, both of Alachua County.
Rhonda Wilson, founder of the The Actors' Warehouse and the Star Center Children's Theatre, will be recognized for her community service. The landmark chosen to be recognized this year will be the Safety Cab Co. building at 820 NW 5th Ave.
Woody said Safety Cab is being "acknowledged" because it has maintained its presence on historic NW 5th Avenue for many decades.
The committee has recognized close to 500 local residents since it was formed, and Barton, King and Wilson said they are proud to be joining the list.
"I do what I do because I have a passion for it that was passed on to me by my parents," said Barton, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn., watching her parents encourage others to exercise their right to vote. "I am very honored and appreciative and I was very surprised when I found out I was being honored. I just love what I do. I love doing my job."
King echoed Barton's sentiments.
"I am honored and elated to be receiving this award and I am very humbled that they thought enough of me to give me this honor," said King, who no longer works as a judicial assistant in the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Wilson, who also teaches drama at Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy and is a teacher in the Gifted Program at Waldo Community School in Waldo, said she was surprised when she found out she was being honored by the committee.
"I thought they were just inviting me to the banquet until I realized they were honoring me," Wilson said. "It is always great to be honored, but I do what I do because I love doing what I do, not for the honors. I love seeing the impact it has on the lives of the children."
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