National Council of Negro Women praises local trailblazers

LEGACY HONOREES—Women honored by the Rankin/Mon Valley/Pittsburgh Section of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. for their accomplishments are, from left: Mary Gerald, Thelma Glaze, Bariki Hall-Shabazz, Gladys Nesbit and Anne Lee Murrell. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
LEGACY HONOREES—Women honored by the Rankin/Mon Valley/Pittsburgh Section of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. for their accomplishments are, from left: Mary Gerald, Thelma Glaze, Bariki Hall-Shabazz, Gladys Nesbit and Anne Lee Murrell. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

In an effort to honor longtime president and Rankin native Dorothy Height while recognizing local community women whose works are, in the spirit of Height’s legacy, paving the way for the next generation, the Rankin/Mon Valley/Pittsburgh Section of the National Council of Negro Women Inc. held its fifth annual Legacy Awards Luncheon on March 28 at Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg.

“Today, this event is in honor of Dr. Dorothy Height, her birthday was on March 24. This is also Women’s History Month and this is why we maintain to keep it in March, so that we illuminate the women in our community (who work so hard),” said Flora Jackson, section president. “This is all about legacy and our history, and we have to maintain it and make sure it’s visible for our.”

Mary McLeod Bethune founded the NCNW Inc. in 1935 after recognizing the need for planning and action by a united organization for women to address various civil and women’s rights issues. Height was president of the organization for approximately 40 years.

The afternoon program included Dr. Lenall Thomas, chief executive officer of the Center for Family Excellence, as the mistress of ceremonies and several selections from the gospel group Fresh Anointing Singers. While the food catered by Aunt Cheryl’s Baking and Catering was good, it was the inspirational message by keynote speaker Joy Maxberry Woodruff, president of the African American Women for Political Change, that left guests all filled-up.

JOY MAXBERRY WOODRUFF  Keynote Speaker
JOY MAXBERRY WOODRUFF
Keynote Speaker

 

Woodruff, wife of former Pittsburgh Steeler and Common Pleas Judge Dwayne Woodruff, spoke on the event’s theme “Our Legacy, Our Leadership, Our Future,” and about her experience as a wife and mother, and the legacy she is working hard to leave. She gave three points that one can use to assess their life and the mark they are leaving behind.

“Ask yourself, what is your legacy? What kind of leader have you been? And how has the life that you lived contributed to a brighter future for the next generation?” Woodruff added, “We each have a legacy and should be proud of it not matter what.

After the inspirational word, the organization presented six women, ranging from nurses to civil rights activists, with a special token to say thank you and show appreciation for the works they have done, are doing and will continue to do. This year’s honorees were: Mary Gerald, a retired nurse; Thelma M. Glaze, retired employee of what is now the Department of Human Services; human rights activist Bariki Hall-Shabazz; Kuntu Repertory Theatre Founder and Artist Director Dr. Vernell Lillie, who could not attend; Anna Lee Murrell, a well known local gospel legend and founder of the group, the Murrell Singers; and Gladys Nesbit, retired nurse and co-founder of the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

FLORA JACKSON Local NCNW President
FLORA JACKSON
Local NCNW President

 

While each recipient accepted the honor in their own, very different words, there was a consistent message throughout them all—to not be ashamed of your history, and to know it and pass it on so that more future leaders can be grown and nurtured.

“These honorees were nominated by people in the community and members, for their achievements, their service and the work they’ve done in their communities,” said Jackson. “And I think so far we’ve made very good choices (over the years).”

She added, “I hope the women featured in the program are used as an inspiration for young ladies coming up and later.”

As a surprise at the end of the award portion, Jackson presented Woodruff with a legacy award as well. Each honoree received a plaque as well as a proclamation from the office of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

LENALL THOMAS Mistress of Ceremonies
LENALL THOMAS
Mistress of Ceremonies

 

(For more information on the local section of the National Council of Negro Women, call 412-351-6269 or email ncnwrankinpa@yahoo.com.)

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