— Nigerian Proverb
“May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” Ruth 2:12
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
This past weekend here in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., history was revisited, celebrated and sealed with the stamp of love.
As beachgoers walked through the sands of times remembering how it was and how, like the current of the sea, we were carried across oceans of waters to a harsh and barren land and yet with the comfort of God, “Our rough places were made smooth” and now a part of this place was named after some of us.
I saw the eternal flames that burned and seared our place in history in the eyes of those family members whose names now are forever etched in time. Mizell, Johnson, Allen, Burrows Giles and Shirley.
As their stories were told the essence of their struggles dance on the hot summer breeze like ‘no seeums’ biting you and making you pay close attention to the stories that were told; you couldn’t see them but you sure could feel them and the marks left by their bites were evidence of them being there. So too are our stories to some.
As the song lyrics echoed back and forth like the waves of the ocean, “God gon’ trouble the waters.” “Listen to the motion of the ocean; can’t you feel it, too? Ships ahoy!”
Yes it was a proud day at the Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson Beach no matter what Pavilion you were under – George Allen, George and Agnes Burrows or Dr. Calvin Shirley – you could only dock at the Alphonso Giles Boat Dock.
After a Saturday at the beach and First Sunday’s church service, history continued with a White Hat experience.
The Levi Henry, Jr. White Hat Award Gala! This community service award reception was held in the elegant Mary N. Porter Riverview Ballroom at the magnificent Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Aug. 7.
These White Hat awardees – Esther Baylor, Pastor Joe Johnson and Judge Zebedee Wright – are community ser-vants whose assertiveness epitomizes the essence of “GET IT DONE FOR THE GOOD OF ALL PEOPLE.”
This attitude and his White Hat embody the life of Pastor Levi Henry, Jr., founder and publisher emeritus of the Westside Gazette newspaper and founding member of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Broward.
History is about giving and that is what happened at the White Hat Gala. Monies were raised for Sickle Cell and a diverse representation of the communities came out to support the cause and pay homage to the honorees.
In addition, a surprise and special presentation of the Westside Gazette/Jennie Pearl Brooks “Angel In the Midst of Us Award” was presented to Mr. Art Kennedy, who has been in the back-ground advocating and selflessly assisting others in over-coming insurmountable odds.
Legendary Civil Rights Activist and President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA, the Black Press of America) Reverend Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., delivered the keynote address. After he was introduced, signed, sealed and delivered by committee member Janice Hayes, he couldn’t help but set the audience on fire.
Dr. Chavis said, “We are very grateful for what the White Hat Gala symbolizes for the uplift of all humanity. I am pleased to enthusiastically affirm the importance and significance of the Inaugural Levi Henry, Jr. White Hat Awards Gala. We acknowledge that the focus on helping to raise funds and public awareness about the health impact of Sickle Cell disease in America must be a national priority. We, therefore, salute the good efforts and leadership of the Westside Gazette newspaper and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Broward County. We are living in trying times. We are witnessing the resurgence of social and racial segregation. We live with the reality of economic inequality. But this is the day that the Lord hath made. We all are called to celebrate. We all are called to stand up and speak out for that which is right in the sight and presence of God. We all are called to unify and to work together to transform our community and world. We are all called to support and fight to overcome Sickle Cell and all the health diseases.”
Of course I could not capture all of the goodness of the evening nor of the love that was shown throughout the entire course of the evening.
In all, the White Hat Awards is a symbolic tribute to the life and legacy of our father, Rev. Levi Henry, Jr and the honorees; however none of this would not have been possible without those who gave of their time, financial support and the belief that without love nothing really matters and nothing truly counts.
“It feels good to know that our legacy is built on 45 years of trust, respect and the integrity of reporting our positive history which was traditionally shunned by mainstream media. None of this could have happened without God. I am grateful to those who believe that the love for all people has allowed funds to be raised for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Broward. This clearly demonstrates a profound commitment to the African American community that needs the philanthropic thrust for procuring funds to support scholarships, research, education and advocacy for a disease that’s impacting the African-American community.” Rev. Levi Henry, Jr.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing…. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:2,13 (NASB)
See more pictures in next week’s edition.
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