African-American Achievers recognize accomplishments

WARREN – “Children are our Future” and “Education is the Key” were the themes of an evening honoring the accomplishments of African-Americans in the community.

Six inductees were honored Saturday during the Trumbull County African-American Achievers Association’s 28th annual Hall of Fame dinner held at the DiVieste Banquet Hall in Warren.

“We have a doctor, a former superintendent of Warren City Schools, a labor union representative, a deacon of Second Baptist Church …” said Bob Davis, president of the Achievement Awards committee.

The inductees were Dr. Fareedah Capers, Alma Currie, Michalene Hughley, Joe Louis Jackson, Loree Richardson and Darryl B. Parker.

“Our mission is to recognize our rich heritage and culture by recognizing the accomplishments of African-Americans in Trumbull County,” Davis said. “This is something that we really embrace.”

The organization also seeks to inspire, motivate and encourage youths to go to college and give back to their community, he said. Two high school students, LeShun Daniels and Shauntiaonia Johnson, both seniors at Warren G. Harding, were awarded scholarships in the amount of $1,000.

The keynote speaker, a former inductee, was Sterling Williams, owner / director of Sterling-McCullough Williams Funeral Home.

“I’m honored to be invited to speak,” he said. “This is an organization that instills black pride and solidarity, and it gives us a chance to recognize those individuals that are role models to others.”

“I am really excited over all the inductees. Each of them are really deserving of the award,” Williams said.

Williams received a standing ovation after his speech, during which he emphasized the importance of a higher education. He cited 10 stumbling blocks today’s youths often encounter along the way: spirituality, poverty, shifting economy, secondary education disparity, obesity, materialism, violence in school, growing up too fast, drug and alcohol abuse and single-parent households.

Williams said together, the community can reach out to youths and encourage them to make a better life.

“This organization was founded to show that we do have positive role models in the community,” he said. “That’s a strong foundation.”

Numerous city officials were in attendance, with some presenting the awards, including Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, Warren City Council President Bob Dean, 6th Ward councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, 7th Ward Councilwoman Eddie Colbert, Councilwoman at-Large Helen Rucker and Trumbull County commissioners Frank Fuda and Paul Heltzel.

Each year, TCAAAA recognizes African-Americans who have had a positive impact on the community in leadership, community service or development, entrepreneurship, family development, education, religious outreach programs and artistic talent.

Davis said there usually are around 25 nominated for the honor, but only six are selected each year.

“We take it very seriously,” he said, adding that the committee believes everyone nominated is deserving of the award, and those who don’t win are considered the following year.

The inductees are honored during an awards ceremony held in conjunction with Black History Month. Their accomplishments included:

Capers is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and is board-certified in family medicine. In 2010, she was recognized for her service to the community by the Youngstown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, receiving the Tribute to Black Excellence for Public Service.

Currie, a member of Believers’ Church, Seniors Helping Seniors and Women of Believers’ Church, volunteers with Guardian Angels and Church Women United. She also is co-organizer of the North Eastern Ohio Senior Women’s Golf Group for women ages 50 or older and gives golf lessons to women of her church.

Hughley has worked for the Ohio unemployment office, welfare office, Department of Mental Retardation and the Fairhaven Program, as well as Valley Counseling and Summit Children Services. She says she is a public servant and plans to increase the time she spends volunteering at local food pantries the Trumbull New Theater.

Jackson, a deacon at Second Baptist Church, has been involved with the Boy Scouts for nearly 45 years. He is a volunteer leader and works with Scouts and their families to enrich and strengthen their family units and improve the community.

Richardson, formerly the associate superintendent of Warren City Schools, served in education for 36 years before her retirement. She has assisted in the coordination of community programs, such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and the TEAM mentoring program at the YWCA and the Before and After-School Childcare Program. She also is a member of the 2006 class of Leadership Mahoning Valley.

Parker, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1375, became the first African-American to lead the union in May 2012. In addition to working in the steel industry for 44 years and filling various union roles, Parker is a lifetime member of the NAACP and has volunteered his time with the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County, the Trumbull County Martin Luther Dream Team and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.