Program Honors the Service of Area Women

Howard University's Blackburn Center ballroom provided the setting for the In Her Honor celebration

Last night, the Emergence Community Arts Collection — headed by Sylvia Robinson — hosted a celebratory program at Howard University’s Blackburn Center ballroom. The program, titled “In Her Honor,” shared the stories of women committed to preserving the foundation of our community.

E. Gail Anderson Holness delivered the welcome address. It was noted early in the evening that great mothers, educators and organizers don’t often make the history books, but deserve recognition nonetheless.  After the welcome remarks, a narrator delivered a general area history punctuated by reenactors delivering addresses from their historical counterparts.

Notable historic women that were represented at the program included Elizabeth Keckley, Helen Appo Cook, Josephine Beall Bruce, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Dr. Rebecca Cole, Marie Meriwether, and Marie Key — all women associated with caring for “destitute colored women and children” at 733 Euclid Street in one form or another.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton flanked by Cecilia Jones and Sylvia Robinson

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the evening’s guest speaker, delivered a message that spoke of the importance of education, her passion for district representation, and how Washington is a city that is ever evolving with room for all that chose to call it home. Norton also noted her personal connection to the area. As a child she lived on the 700 blocks of Kenyon and Irving Streets while she attended Monroe School. Her family later moved to the area around 5th Street and Upshur.

The program honored eleven women who have made a difference in our communities. They briefly are:

  • Ms. Maybelle Bennet — a civil rights activist  who served on the Zoning Commission for the District of Columbia from 1982 to 1998. She is currently the Director of the Howard University Community Association;
  • Ms. Janie Boyd — a community activist who years ago organized a large food buying club where members could take advantage of wholesale prices. She is currently  a Community Engagement Worker at the United Planning Organization;
  • Mrs. M.A. “Doll” Fitzgerald — a political strategist and a member of the Metropolitan Baptist Church.  She also organized and chaired the Outreach Task Force on drugs and substance abuse;
  • Ms. Lynn C. French — Executive Director of Hope and a Home. French devoted her life to developing healthy communities and in this capacity, spent the majority of her career influencing housing policies that create opportunities for equitable development and a cohesive community;
  • Dr. Alyce Gullattee — a social activist who first came to Washington, D.C., in 1950. Her 44 year career as a psychiatrist at Howard University was marked by many remarkable experiences, including consultation in the Attica prison uprising, taking medicine to people in Mozambique, and attending the 6th Pan African Congress in 1974;
  • Ms. Vernita Jefferson — Chair of Guidance and Counseling at Banneker Academic Senior High School. Her passion for her career comes from wanting to be part of the transformation for students from young people to young citizens;
  • Ms. Roberta McLeod — Director of the Armour J. Blackburn University Center and Intramural, Recreation and Club Sports. She has served as Director the Howard University Blackburn Center for over 30 years ;
  • Dr. Marta Palacios — Principal of the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View elementary school. Palacios began her career in Washington at the Spanish Education Development Center, a bilingual pre-school. In innovative dual language program for elementary children was recognized by former school Chancellor Michelle Rhee;
  • Mrs. Dotti Love Wade — Board member and D.C. State Board of Education representative. Wade has helped neighborhoods improve by developing nationwide training programs for the Department of Labor Community Action Programs and taught residents in designated cities how to set up tenant associations through the HUD Model Cities Programs;
  • Ms. Marie Whitfield — moved to Park Morton in 1971 and began volunteer work, first with the Head Start program at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, and then with the Park Morton Resident Council. Whitfield served as an ANC commissioner for 8 years and is now in her second year on the Board of Commissions, advocating for public housing residents citywide; and,
  • Ms. Leola Williams — after the 1968 riots, Williams became a founding member of the Outreach Club, a group of women who provided support for each other at All Souls Church for 25 years. She has volunteered for many years at the Greater Washington Urban League as a mentor for unwed mothers and currently serves on the Board of the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights.

The very brief biographies above are a mere hint at the many accomplishment that each honoree has contributed to the community over the years.

Explore posts in the same categories: Community Involvement, History

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3 Comments on “Program Honors the Service of Area Women”

  1. Sheila Reid Says:

    Sylvia, the In her honor program was fantastic. I
    very much would like to purchase a video of the event
    to share with my daugher. Please let me know.

  2. Shadia Fayne Wood Says:

    This event looks amazing. So grateful for all the work ECAC has been doing to serve communities and honor women. Much love to all who were there.

  3. The way you wrote it is amazing one by one pointers…

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