Juneteenth Event Celebrates Leaders with Awards Banquet
We must be free on the inside
By Bethany Peterson
Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:52 a.m., updated June 11, 2012 at 1:47 a.m.
CORPUS CHRISTI — Brightly colored dresses and chuckles set a lively mood for the Juneteenth honorees awards banquet.
The awards banquet honored local, state, regional and national elected officials, entrepreneurs, educators and employers and recognized how each had affected the community.
The 10 days of Juneteenth events mark the 10 days between the emancipation proclamation announcement in Galveston and the news arriving in Corpus Christi. Juneteenth has been a legal holiday in Texas since 1980.
Honoree Quintard Taylor came from Washington to accept his award for helping creating blackpast.org, a black history website written by volunteers on six continents.
“I haven’t been able to get the penguins to write for us,” Taylor joked.
He teaches American history at the University of Washington and the absence of black history information online always had bothered him, Taylor said, prompting him to help create the site.
“My original idea was that it would be a few dozen pages; now it is 10,000 pages,” he said.
Regional honoree Andrena Coleman served as historical site manager of Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. Brown founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, the first private school for black children in 1902. Coleman also hand-makes quilts and dolls out of scraps from a Nigerian dressmaker’s shop and sells them across the country.
“It takes a lot of discipline to finish one and start another,” she said.
But she does, over and over as the sole sewer in her business.
Keynote speaker and national honoree Yvonne Johnson said Juneteenth is not just a historical celebration.
“It’s not enough to be free on paper. We must be free on the inside,” she said.
Many blacks still feel the trauma of slavery because it was passed down from generation to generation, Johnson said. Celebrating accomplishments in the community on Juneteenth is a part of the healing process, she added.
Alexis Herman; first black female Secretary of Labor.
Yvonne Jeffries Johnson; Greensboro’s first African American mayor.
Quintard Taylor; helped created an online website resource center for black history, BlackPast.org.
Andrena Coleman; Historic site manager, quiltmaker.
Sandra Finley; President and CEO of the League of Black Women.
Marshall Best; West Point graduate and entrepreneur.
Janet Brooks; Executive Director of African-American Women’s Leadership Institute.
Todd Hunter; State Representative of District 32.
Irene Garcia; Community service with staff of IBC Bank.
Local Elected Leaders
Ben McDonald; Former mayor 1960s.
Betty Turner; first female mayor, 1987.
Joe Adame; Present Mayor.
Larry Elizondo Sr.; Corpus Christi City Counsel.
Mike Pusley; Nueces County Commissioner Precinct No. 1
Thelma Caesar; Oversaw child care centers, touched many children.
Dorothy Wade; Social Services Advocate for more than 25 years.
Erma Wilson; A committed Civil rights advocate and NAACP member.
Floyd D. Williams; 20 years working as coach with at-risk students.
Ola Tryon; Long time religious, civic and youth leader; Resent Ms. Senior Coastal Bend.
Ola Williams; Long time teacher and president of YWCA black women’s group.
Virgina Wilson; 35 years of service in education administration.
June Lewis; worked as a volunteer educator for many years.
Special Achievement Award
Courtney Hawkins; First Coastal Bend player drafted while in high school.