Honoring Heroes

Published 11:45 am Saturday, February 11, 2012

Annual Black History program honors current, past heroes

The tradition of “Keeping the Dream Alive” will continue with the 12th Annual Black History, Scholarship Program and Banquet on Sunday.

Twelve years ago, Dorothy Townsend and her daughter, Allison Townsend Webb, presented the first Black History program, which was titled, “ Bridging the Past to the Future.” The program was designed to honor past and future Pike County heroes.

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“We wanted a way to honor those who dedicated themselves to helping build and shape the Pike County community,” Dorothy Townsend said. “They are our Pike County heroes. The tradition continues.”

Three Pike County “heroes” will be honored at the 12th Annual Black History, Scholarship Program and Banquet at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Outreach Endtime Deliverance Church north of Troy on Highway 231. Admission to the banquet is a $12 donation.

“We will recognize and honor three present-day heroes who are making a difference in their community in different, but equally effective, ways,” Townsend said. “These individuals are our present history makers. They are ‘Keeping the Dream Alive.’ It is our pleasure to honor these individuals as present heroes.”

The 2012 “dream keepers” are Patricia Rodgers, Johnny Jones and Clarence Scott.

“Patricia Rodgers is the business teacher at Charles Henderson High School and she has worked with this (scholarship) program for many years,” Townsend said. “She gives suggestions and selections for those she thinks will benefit from the awards and, perhaps, will continue their education beyond high school.”

Townsend said Rodgers has introduced many ideas for success to her students and tries to help pave the way for all of them to learn business technology and pursue college degrees and own their own business or succeed wherever their interests and opportunities lead them.”

Johnny Jones is employed at Charles Henderson High School. He is an influential man in Troy who strives to keep the dream alive, Townsend said.

“Johnny has served as a role model to young students as a mentor,” she said. “Through his guidance, he has influenced many with his good morals and values. He is known for his singing all over Pike County.”

Jones’ signature song is “Give Me Just a Little More Time.”

“That’s an old song that was taught to him by his mom,” Townsend said. “Ever since Johnny was a little child, churches all over Pike County have asked him to appear on programs. They ask him to speak, to pray and motivate them — people of all ages, so that they will know they can make it in life. We salute Johnny Jones for that.”

Clarence Scott has achieved success through hard work and strong determination.

“Clarence said that, when he was in school, someone told him that he would never do anything in life. That he would end up in jail.” Townsend said. “Now he teaches and lectures inmates.

“He owns a construction company and has built more than 30 houses all around Pike County. He owns the Troy Veterans Center that provides shelter and accommodations for a large number of veterans from many places. He has proven to be one of the strongest black entrepreneurs in Troy.”

The 12th Annual Black History, Scholarship Program and Banquet will also recognize those who have paved the way to today and to the future with their commitment to the community and to mankind.

“We will again recognize our city officials, both past and present,” Townsend said. “They are always our special guests at this program. They will have an opportunity to speak and   give encouragement to our present ‘history’ makers.”

Townsend said there will be plenty of music and featured groups will be the Spiritual Jubilees from Troy and the Sons of Glory from Headland.

The communicator will be Sylvester McPherson from WHWL Radio.

“A Black History skit will be presented by Sheila Deveridge as Maya Angelou, Regina Foster as Rosa Parks, Lashay Money as Mahalia Jackson and Jeanetta Scott as Coretta King.

“There will be plenty of good ole fashion food and we will have a great time as we celebrate Black History Month,” Townsend said.

In addition to honoring this year’s heroes, the program will recognize those honored before:

Johnnie Mae Warren was active in the early days of the Civil Rights movement and a pivotal figure in ensuring voter and employment rights for the underserved in South Central Alabama. She forged alliances with both the black and white communities to ensure a peaceful transition to equal rights. Due to her early involvement in equal rights, she was invited by then President Lyndon Johnson to attend a conference on Civil Rights at the White House. She became a champion of the less fortunate regardless of race.

Warren helped organize many NAACP branches in South Alabama. She was the first black female elected to the Troy City Council.

Catherine Williams 1925-1998

Williams worked in the Troy/Pike County area for many years where she helped shaped the lives of many people. Along the way, she worked untiringly and unselfishly for mankind. She was responsible for starting many programs for the young and seniors. She was employed by the Troy Housing Authority for 28 years where she was the social service director and helped many people in that capacity and later became the adult day care director. The center was later named in her memory.

Willie Clarence Thomas, Jr. is known as a strong educator who served in several capacities during his career in his chosen profession. He served as a teacher, vice-principal and principal of Charles Henderson Middle School; federal programs coordinator for the City of Troy; administrative assistant to the superintendent of Troy City Schools; and as superintendent of the Macon County School System, Tuskegee.  He also served his community as a Pike County Commissioner for District1.

Cynthia Pearson is a native of Brundidge and worked for several years as an accountant for Borden Foods and the Pike County Commission. She was elected to the Brundidge City Council District 4 in 1992. She is serving her 20th year on the council and is also mayor pro tem-pore for the City of Brundidge. She has served for 19 years on the board of directors for Southeast Alabama Rural Health Associates. She also serves on the board for the Pulmonary Division at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

Jose Henderson was the Head Start director with the Organized Community Action Program Head Start in Troy and director of a comprehensive child development program located in eight southern counties. Henderson served as a public liaison for the OCAP Head Start Program at the local, state, regional and national levels. When he served as weatherization director of OCAP, the program received the rating as “Best Weatherization Program in the State.” Henderson served as a member of the Troy City Council from 1992 until 2004.

Charlie “Sarge” Dunn is a 22-year military veteran. He served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, two tours in Japan, and two tours in Germany and Alaska and general posts throughout the United States.  In 1997, Dunn organized a group military veterans known as Charlie’s Angels. Charlie’s Angels perform military honors for deceased veterans and participates in parades and other military functions and also provides financial aid to schools and those in need. Dunn is a member of the Troy City Council.