Young African-American women who are members of a Logan High School mentoring group paid tribute to community leaders who have inspired them at a banquet on Saturday, February 10, at the Chief Logan Convention Center.
The moving cross-generational celebration, “Standing on Their Shoulders: A Celebration of Those who Inspire Us,” was planned and carried out by members of the Black American Princesses (BAPs) mentoring group of Logan High School. BAPs is sponsored by New Empowerment for Women (NEW) Plus, a program of the Middle Atlantic Region of the American Friends Service Committee.
The young women honored a group of African-American leaders who have served as living examples of courage and grace and who have made giant contributions to the history and culture of Logan County.
Keynote speaker Arley R. Johnson, programs director for the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, talked about the importance of remembering as he held up a copy of the mentoring group’s booklet compiled last year, “Remembering from Back Then: Stories of our Grandmothers.”
“It is important to record these stories,” said Johnson, a native of Logan County who said he knew many of those being honored. “These community leaders are like giant pillars. They hold all of us up.”
The honorees included those interviewed for the booklet: Ottrus Chatman, Jane Dillard, James and Ora Hagood, Cora Lee Hairston, Ruth Johnson, Ivan and Daisy Richardson, Alene Smith, Betty and Lacy Smith, Vivian Tolliver, Jean Turner and Eula Mae West. Others honored for their work in promoting black history and culture in the county were Zerzetta Coleman, Rosetta Henry, Sim Howze, Velma Jackson, Willa Major, Marion Montgomery and Tom Tolliver.
BAPs members presented gifts to the honorees, and made a special presentation to Joan Hairston, the director of NEW Plus who is recuperating from recent surgery.
“Ms. Joan, you have been our friend and you have been our inspiration,” one of the members of the mentoring group said.
Cora Lee Hairston performed the song, “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and Rev. Gerald Dotson delivered the invocation.
NEW Plus acting director Judy Overko thanked the honorees for their inspiration, their dedication and their encouragement.
“And we thank them for their faith and belief that there can be a better world,” she said.
To members of the BAPs mentoring group, she offered appreciation for their enthusiastic participation and hard work.
“It’s inspiring to watch you each year grow into young adults,” she said. “Before you realize it, someone will be standing on your shoulders.”
Members of the mentoring group include Kelicia Hairston, Jernelle Joyce, Nagina King, Taneshia Little, Reginia Lowe, Rojet Lowe, Shawntah Martin, Shay McCoy, Britni McDaniel, Tanganyika Miller, Anita Murphy, Alexis Tolliver, Alisha Tolliver, Shawnica Tolliver and Latoya Turner. Amy Hairston is lead mentor for the group.
The banquet was made possible by support from the Middle Atlantic Region of the American Friends Service Committee, The West Virginia Development Office’s Flex-E-Grant program and the Pyles, Haviland, Turner and Smith Foundation.
For more information, contact Judy Overko at 304-752-3422.