The 32nd annual Bethune Recognition Luncheon was held over the weekend, hosted by the Inland Empire section. Other sections comprising the Inland Valleys are: Pomona Valley, San Gabriel Valley, High Desert, Orange County and Perris Willie Mae Taylor). The national convention approved the concept of the
Bethune Recognition as a way to perpetuate the memory of founder Mary Jane McLeod Bethune as a model, and also to raise funds for national programs supported by the organization. Mistress of ceremonies Beverly Powell introduced Section president, Lois Carson, who welcomed the assemblage to the Inland Regional Conference Center on Waterman Avenue. The Black National Anthem was sung by RaShawna and Vaughn Fahie. Fontana Mayor Aquanetta Warren led the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
Carson also introduced women from the affiliates who work closely with NCNW: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority ; Knights of Peter Klaver Ladies Auxiliary (Black Catholic Women); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; African Methodist Episcopal Missionary; the Baptist Women's Missionary, and Ladies of Distinction. These six affiliate groups work to perpetuate the legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune.
As the excitement levels gathered momentum, Powell introduced keynote speaker Beverly White, NBC News4, Los Angeles. White focused on three women of history, including Ms. Bethune, who transformed lives for African American women. Moving beyond the limits set for black women Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator, a New Orleans native, summa cum laud from Tulane University, who has a degree in chemical engineering and who is making a difference and advocating for better communities for children with asthma. She discussed environmental racism at the Black Journalists Convention in San Diego in 2010.
The last woman whose life impacted not just life transformation for Blacks but people of every race and creed, Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells were harvested without her knowledge at Johns Hopkins University in the fifties. They have been instrumental in medical advances in several research projects. Mrs. Lacks was a poor tobacco farmer in North Carolina. There is now a book on the life of Henrietta Lacks, who lived out her life far removed from the research labs, never dreaming that one day her name would be linked to cancer advances. Today her sons are without medical insurance; they received no compensation from the project.
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune; Susan Rice, United Nations representative; Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency, the first woman to hold the position. Each represents an empowered Black woman who succeeded against all odds.
Find your empowering place, be it great or small and live out that life, or as Lois Carson stated to the women earlier, “Find your Bethune place of service and empowerment.”
Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter introduced the community honoree, Eldred Marshall, who began his piano studies when he was six years of age when most children his age are mastering “Dick and Jane.” He easily won top prizes at competitions and made his debut with an orchestra when he was sixteen, playing Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto. He is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelors degree in political science. Not only has Marshall played throughout the United States, but internationally as well in Spain, Italy, the Republic of San Marino, Belgium, and the Ukraine. He has recently added conducting to his portfolio. He is currently studying in Dallas, Texas at Southern Methodist University. Marshall formerly worked in the offices of Assemblywoman Carter.
He is also the start-up energy behind the “Classically Black concert” hosted yearly by the San Bernardino Boys & Girls Clubs.
Section presidents presented their achievers, life members and legacy life members. The Inland Empire had the distinction of introducing three generations of one family who stepped up to the plate to help support the goals and ideals of the Council. They were Lelia “Charli” Harris, her mother, Milele Robertson, Life members, and rounding out the trio, Rialto council member Deborah Robertson as a Legacy Life member. Lelia is a sophomore at California State University, Dominguez Hills; her mother is currently an associate transportation planner with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Council member Robertson is serving her eleventh year as a member of the City Council of Rialto. She is a past president of the section.
As the sun was setting on the luncheon the attendees sang one of Mrs. Bethune’s favorite songs when she was in a hard place, “Jacob's Ladder.”
The host section for 2012 will be the San Gabriel Valley Section.