In October, the Dayton Unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), held its 72nd Hall of Freedom Awards to honor the outstanding achievements of individuals that have made rich deposits in the lives of the American people. They were nominated by individuals in the community who felt they deserved to be recognized. The members of the Dayton Unit NAACP had an opportunity to read through all of the submissions and ultimately casted their vote for who they thought should win each award. There were 13 award categories. The nominees with the most votes in each category won. The recipient of the President’s Award was selected by the President.
The hosts for the evening were KaJeza Hawkins, Multi-Media Journalist for WDTN-TV2 and Brandon Lewis, Reporter for WHIO-TV7. Scott Koorndyk, President for The Entrepreneurs Center and Valerie Lemmie, Senior Advisor, State and Local Government for Kettering Foundation, served as Honorary Chairs.
The evening commenced with the introduction of the dais guest. That was followed by the presentation of colors by the Meadowdale Career Technology Center Army JROTC Color Guard Team, singing of the National Anthem and the Negro National Anthem. The invocation was given by Dr. Pat Murray, Founder and Lead Pastor, The Living Word Church. Dr. Pat Murray Founder and Lead Pastor. The welcome was given by Lu Dale, Chair of the Freedom Fund Committee.
After the invocation, the awards show began. Dayton Mayor Jeff Mims announced the winner of the Louise Troy Excellence in Education Award, Eddie Davis, Principal, Meadowdale Career Technology Center. Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman announced the winner of the Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award, Willie A. Terrell, Jr., 3rd Vice President & Scholarship Chair, Dayton Unit NAACP. State Representative Willis Blackshear announced the winner of the W.S. McIntosh Courageous Activist Award, Donald Domineck, Chair, Dayton Chapter of the New Black Panther Party. Jenell Ross, President of Bob Ross Auto Group, announced the winner of the Bob and Norma Ross Outstanding Leadership Award, Jim Johnson, President and General Manager, WDAO Radio. Veronica Bedell Nevels, President of The President’s Club of Dayton, announced the winner of the Miley O. Williamson Award of Distinction, Mary E. Taylor (Posthumously). Mattie White, 1st Vice President of the Dayton Unit NAACP, announced the winner of the Community Service Award, Daj'za Demmings, Founder of the Dayton Young Black Professionals.
After the first set of awards were presented, Andre Washington, State President of Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, introduced Dr. Derrick L. Foward, 34th President of the Dayton Unit NAACP. President Foward introduced honorary chairs Koorndyk and Lemmie and presented them with an Award of Honor. Clair Thompson, Secretary of the Dayton Unit NAACP, acknowledged all new life members with a video presentation. The winner of the Youth Development Award, Anthony Parker, Director, Miami Valley Leadership Foundation’s Hope4Trotwood Community, was announced by Ja’Shawn Gurley, Ramah Lindsey and Escalajah Draper, all youth leaders of the Dayton Unit NAACP. The scholarship awards were presented by Terrell, and the winners were Ivan Roberts, Trotwood-Madison High School; Nicole Roebuck, Meadowdale Career Technology Center; and Jayson Robert Jefferson, Thurgood Marshall STEAM High School. Felicia Pollard, granddaughter of Representative Bowers, announced the winner of the Frederick Bowers Public Policy Award, Michele Roberts, Retired Deputy Auditor, Montgomery County Auditor’s Office. Shellee Fisher and Tracy Fisher Singletary, daughters of Judge Fisher, announced the winner of the Judge Arthur O’Neil Fisher Fair and Just Award, Honorable Adele M. Riley, Retired Judge, Montgomery County Municipal Court. Judith Earley, daughter of Lt. Col. Earley, announced the winner of the Lt. Col. Charity Adams Earley Award of Excellence, Carol A. Prewitt, President, Prewitt Consulting LLC. Artist Kim Wiggins announced the winner of the Breakthrough Award, Carlos Buford, Founder, Black Lives Matter Dayton. President Foward announced the winners of the President’s Award, Nan Whaley, 56th Mayor, City of Dayton, and the Lifetime Achievement Award, Wayne Lee Wheat, Owner, House of Wheat Funeral Home.
The Honorable Tom Roberts, President of the Ohio Conference NAACP, introduced the guest speaker, the Honorable Karen Boykins-Towns, Vice Chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, who delivered a very impactful keynote address titled, “Protecting our Democracy.” Prior to Boykin-Towns speaking, there was a video presentation shown that highlighted President Foward receiving the NAACP Image Award for Activist of the Year during the 54th NAACP Image Awards held in Los Angeles, California. The awards show concluded with closing remarks and benediction given by Rev. Joshua Ward, Pastor of Omega Baptist Church.
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize individuals who has rendered outstanding service that is in direct alignment with the NAACP Mission, NAACP Strategic Game Changers and the Dayton Unit NAACP Vision Statement. The Presidential Award of Freedom was presented to Nan Whaley, 56th Mayor, City of Dayton.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize outstanding leaders who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Civil and Human Rights over their lifetime.
Wayne Lee Wheat, Owner, House of Wheat Funeral Home received this Lifetime Achievement Award.
MILEY O. WILLIAMSON AWARD OF DISTINCTION
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize an individual for 20-plus years of activism working with the NAACP, their Church and other Civic Organizations. Mary E. Taylor (Posthumously) received the Miley O. Williamson Award of Distinction award – In 1960, she became a member of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church under Reverend D.R. Miller. She served in many Ministries in her 62 years.
FREDERICK BOWERS PUBLIC POLICY AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize outstanding public servants who deliver results on behalf of the American people. Winners will be those who have, on a sustained basis, done some or all of the following:
- Made a profound difference in improving service to the public
- Been willing to take risks to achieve change
- Fostered a more democratic society
- Served as a champion of social equity
- Changed the way an organization operates so that it better achieves its goals
- Achieved substantial savings in government
- Under their leadership, other community leaders have been developed
Michele Roberts, Retired Deputy Auditor, Montgomery County Auditor’s Office – Political strategist who has worked on countless campaigns received the Frederick Bowers Public Policy Award.
BOB AND NORMA ROSS OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize outstanding local corporations, businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs that demonstrate their commitment to create partnerships that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. Jim Johnson, President and General Manager, WDAO Radio received the Bob and Norma Ross Outstanding Leadership Award.
LOUISE TROY EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize educators with 10 or more years of service and achievement in public education. Eddie Davis, Principal, Meadowdale Career Technology Center received this Louise Troy Excellence in Education Award
W. S. MCINTOSH COURAGEOUS ACTIVIST AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize an individual who has demonstrated activism in civil and human rights for 5 or more years. Donald Domineck, Chair, Dayton Chapter of the New Black Panther Party received the W. S. McIntosh Courageous Activist Award.
JUDGE ARTHUR O'NEIL FISHER FAIR & JUST AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize an individual who has been a true trailblazer of “first” and has performed their duty fairly, impartially and courageously. Honorable Adele M. Riley, Retied Judge, Montgomery County Municipal Court received the Judge Arthur O’Neil Fisher Fair & Just Award – The Honorable Adele M. Riley has served as a judge in Ohio in various capacities for over 25 years.
THE LT. COL. CHARITY ADAMS EARLEY AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize an outstanding individual who has demonstrated ongoing leadership in any branch of the United States Military or within the Veterans Administration; or has been instrumental in fostering the continuing relationship between the Dayton area and the military and veteran’s communities. Carol A. Prewitt, President, Prewitt Consulting LLC (WINNER) – Carol A. Prewitt is a veteran of the United States Air Force and is currently the President of Prewitt Consulting LLC. She worked as a licensed social worker and a teacher before going on in her professional career to serve as an aid to Congressman Tony P. Hall and Ohio State Senator Fred Strahorn as well as congressional liaison representative for the United States Air Force Academy and clerk to Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize an individual who has demonstrated achievement in youth development for ten or more years. Anthony Parker, Director, Miami Valley Leadership Foundation’s Hope4Trotwood Community received the Youth Development Award.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize individuals who are making significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication.
Daj'za Demmings, Founder of the Dayton Young Black Professionals received the Community Service Award.
DISTINGUISHED VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize volunteers who unselfishly have given their time and talent for five or more consecutive years to ensure efficient administrative operations of the Dayton Unit NAACP. The Distinguished Volunteer of the Year Award is bestowed to acknowledge, celebrate and salute exemplary servants and supporters of the NAACP mission. The recipient embodies team spirit, commitment and love for the causes of the NAACP, and are valued and respected by their peers. The volunteer has a remarkable attendance record related to Dayton Unit NAACP business hours, meetings and events.
Willie A. Terrell, Jr., 3rd Vice President & Scholarship Chair, Dayton Unit NAACP Distinguished Volunteer Of The Year Award.
THE BREAKTHROUGH AWARD
The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize Unsung Heroes who are exceptional individuals that have demonstrated the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others but are not widely recognized for the tremendous work they have accomplished. The award was created to honor the vision of the Dayton Unit NAACP which is “to fulfill the dream of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by capitalizing on the second “A” of the NAACP, which stands for “ADVANCEMENT.” When you advance, we all advance! Carlos Buford, Founder, Black Lives Matter Dayton is the winner of the Breakthrough Award.
This article originally appeared on Dayton Weekly News and republished through its partnership with Elevate Dayton.