African American Achievers highlight positives of community

WARREN – The African American Achievers Association 29th annual Hall of Fame Inductee Dinner’s theme will be “Coming Together Making a Difference in the Community.”

The dinner will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at DiVieste Banquet Hall, 754 North River Road.

This year’s theme is aimed at shedding light on the positive things happening in the community.

Dante A. Capers, the program’s keynote speaker, has been an administrator with the Warren City School District for seven years and is the current principal at Warren G. Harding High School.

Capers graduated from Warren schools and has a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from the department of education at Kent State University. He worked as a social studies teacher at Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Champion. He became an administrator at Harding in 2007.

He serves as an ordained minister, administrator, Sunday school teacher, and sound technician at Monument of Faith Church of God in Christ in Warren. The church is led by Bishop David Herron.

His other areas of community service activities include the city’s Resident Advisory Council on charter government in 2010 and the Warren Strategic Planning Group in 2010 and 2011.

The African American Achievers Association was formed in 1985, by the late Van Williams. The Trumbull County-based association recognizes the achievements of African Americans in all of their endeavors from the early settlers of the Western Reserve to today’s community leaders.

“It is done every year in conjunction with Black History Month to highlight the struggles of our forefathers,” Bob Davis, president of the African American Achievers Association said. “It is our responsibility to tell the stories that we achieved against all odds.”

Davis said they are trying to keep Williams’ legacy alive.

“Our mission is to promote public interest in the rich history of African Americans in this county and to encourage education among our youths,” Davis said.

The annual dinner provides $500 scholarships for the two student honorees. This year, Sterling Williams, owner of Sterling McCullough Williams Funeral Home, is providing $500 matches for each of the student scholarships.

The remaining money earned from the dinner will be used to pay some of the cost of the annual African American Festival held in Warren’s courthouse square in early summer.

Cost of the dinner is $30 per adult.

For information, call 330-399-6525 or 330-369-8345.

The following are honorees:

l The Rev. Georgina (Gena) Thornton, pastor of Grace AME Church in Warren since Oct. 31, 2009. She has served as the assistant president of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which was founded by Marcus Garvey. Thornton for 10 years shared her “Nuggets of Truth” on the Ron Daniel Show, WYTV, Channel 33, and a ministry radio program on WGFT, both in Youngstown.

For eight years, she ministered in the Juvenile Justice Center in Youngstown and conducted bible study at the Mansfield Reformatory. She has been on field missions in Guyana, Haiti and South Africa. A Gena Thornton Multi-purpose Centre was built in the Allen Temple Meadowland, Republic of South Africa, in 2002. It is used for HIV rehabilitation.

l Vivian Faye Walters Morgan, first lady of Hoyt Street Flourishing Ministries in Warren. She has served in the ministry for more than 40 years.

Morgan has worked for Packard Electric, Trumbull Correctional Institution, and health care facilities. She has owned Viv’s Beauty Salon and Reginald’s Home for Veterans. She is a licensed evangelist. She has completed work on her doctorate degree and is expected to graduate with her counseling degree from the Metropolitan College of Theology.

l Cheryl L. Strother, director of nursing at Warren City Health Department since 2008. She has worked in the department since 1998. She is the only African American public health nurse in Trumbull County. A 1970 graduate of Brookfield High School, she received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Youngstown State University and earned a graduate degree at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

She was the May 2013 recipient of the Mahoning Valley Leadership in Health award and will receive the 2014 Hero/Shero of Health award from the Ohio Commission of Minority Health on March 27 in Columbus.

Strother is the president of the Grace AME Church nursing guild. She believes that “disease prevention, health promotion and health education are vital to the health of a community.”

l Linda McMillion Snyder, an associate director of family engagement and community outreach for I Know I Can, a not-for-profit college access program that annually provides $1.5 million in grants and scholarships. The organization provides FAFSA assistance for families, college readiness workshops, and college planning and tours for free to the 51,000 Columbus City School District students.

She is a member of the Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

A graduate of Warren City Schools, Snyder is active in the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and the Rise Sister Rise Research Project, which supports issues faced by African-American teenage girls.

Posthumous honorees include:

l Mark E. Davis, a member of the All Souls Body of Christ Ministries who loved to talk about his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His love of basketball allowed him to earn a nomination for the West Virginia Wesleyan College Hall of Fame, where he earned a bachelor of science degree. He was a teacher at Trumbull Correctional Institution for 12 years, retiring in 2000. He also was a firefighter in Warren, retiring in 1988.

l DaMon William “Monty” Davis, who was also a member of All Souls Body of Christ Ministries. He was a first round draft pick for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1980. Davis was a 1976 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School and received a full scholarship to Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he led the nation in rebounds.

Davis returned to the area after spending five years in the NBA. He played on an AAU team sponsored by former state Rep. Michael Verich.

Student honorees are:

l DeAndre Merchant of Warren G. Harding High School, who has been been on the National Honor Society from 2012-2014, participated in T.E.A.M. mentoring from 2010-2011, participated in the Madrigal, New Tomorrows and Freshman Chorale, as well as a varsity letterman in football from 2012-14 and ran indoor track 2012-13.

He has donated blood for the Red Cross blood drive, has done some bell ringing for the Salvation Army and participated in the 2013 YWCA Children Olympics.

l Choniece Phillips of Warren G. Harding High School has been on the honor roll since 2010, has a 4.095 GPA and is currently ranked second in her class. She also is taking classes at Kent State University at Trumbull. She participated in cheerleading, in the Inspiring Minds organization, Interact, Harding’s Key, Math and Robotics clubs, and has served on the student council. She was selected as one of the Tribune Chronicle’s 20 under Twenty recipients. Phillips would like to become a pharmacist and a businesswoman.