At Monday’s swearing-in ceremony of Barack Obama for a second term as president, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a member of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, spoke first. His brief remarks on the National Mall in Washington, DC included this quote from African American author and fellow Tennessean, the late Alex Haley, “Find the good — and praise it.”
Locally, the South Florida Chapter of AT&T’s Community NETwork has followed that advice for 20 years by identifying the achievements of outstanding individuals to produce and present the annual Black History calendar for school children. The 2013 event will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Booker T. Washington Senior High School, 1200 NW Sixth Ave. in Overtown. It is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat contact Monique John at 305-622-3210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s calendar features educators: Agenoria Spearman Paschal, the late Timothy O. Savage and the late Betty Page. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington, retired educator Shirley Bailey Johnson, a native of Mississippi recalls her participation, and the late Palm Beach County Judge Isiah Smith, is remembered as a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement. Highlighted are the accomplishments of National Baseball Hall of Famer Andre Dawson, who is a graduate of South Miami Senior High school and Regina Jollivette Frazier, a graduate of Miami Northwestern Senior High School. A retired pharmacist, Frazier is the Ninth International President of The Links Inc.
Also featured in the calendar are historic sites: the Lemon City Burial Ground and the Miami Times office are shown as community landmarks. Timothy Barber’s leadership in the development of the historic Lyric Theater complex is acknowledged.
For the first time the calendar will feature two former Miami-Dade County Public School students who are now artists performing in New York City: Afra Hines and Wilkie Ferguson III.
Hines attended South Miami Elementary School. A professional dancer and entertainer she was a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall for over 5 years and still performs regularly in New York, on and off Broadway. She and her grandmother, Miami Herald columnist Bea Hines, are featured in the book, Attitude! Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at the (Alvin) Ailey School.
Wilkie Ferguson III, a classical pianist, graduated from the New World School of the Arts. A professional singer, dancer and actor he has done national tours and recently appeared in the Broadway shows Porgy and & Bess. The son of former County Commissioner Betty Ferguson and the late Judge Wilkie Ferguson he and sister, Tawnicia, produced the music and lyrics for an inaugural song on Youtube.
Twenty years ago, employees of AT&T’s Liberty City Community Relations Team (CRT) initiated Miami-Dade County’s African American History Calendar. With research assistance from The Black Archives, History & Research Foundation Of South Florida and editorial assistance from The Miami Herald, the project has evolved into a community tradition. AT&T’s Sandy Thomas leads the team of volunteers and serves as co-editor with Monique John. Contributing editor Karen Tynes is the Newspapers in Education coordinator at The Miami Herald Media Co. Kamila Pritchett, freelance researcher and writer, is a volunteer at The Black Archives.
From the beginning Wilbert “Tee” Holloway a member of the CRT, now chair of the South Florida Chapter of AT&T’s Community NETwork and a member of the Miami-Dade County Public School Board has supported this project. Recently interviewed he said, “We take pride in our year-round commitment toward educating children about the contributions of African Americans in Miami-Dade County. This calendar presents valued people, places and events of the African Diaspora whose achievements are appreciated in our community.”