Butterfly, LLC, and OMG Productions collaborated to host a citywide Mother’s
Day Dinner, and musical tribute, on Sunday, May 12. Held at St. Clements Hall,
2990 Tremainsville Rd, the event featured musical artist, Darius Coleman, and
saxophonists, CJ Manning and Company.
According to organizers, attendees traveled from Findlay, Defiance, and Cleveland, Ohio, as well as Detroit, Michigan, to attend the sold out event. Guests also had the opportunity to win various gift bags that were raffled during the event. A portion of the proceeds, $500, was donated to the YWCA, in effort to give back to the community, according to Donnetta Carter, CEO of The Social Butterfly, LLC.
She told The Toledo Journal that they wanted to do something special for mothers that included fine dining, as well as good entertainment.
“Many of the restaurants that people attend will charge at least $40 per person, but won’t offer entertainment. Our event was cheaper, and offered good entertainment,” Ms. Carter said.
She said the reason
they chose to donate to the YWCA is the many beneficial programs the agency
offers to the community.
Tracy Roberts, CEO of OMG Productions, said he immediately jumped at the opportunity to help host an event for mothers.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the community; they’re asking us to do another one,” Mr. Roberts said.
Marissa Schoenegge, said, “This is really a good event. The music is good, and the singer is really good. It has been totally worth my time, and money.”
Anna Davis was one of the winners of a gift bag. She said, “I love this event. The food is good, and the music is good. I’m so glad I came. We need more events like this in Toledo.”
Ms. Carter thanked everyone who attended. She also added a special thank you to her assistant, Danielle Schoenegge, who helped make the event go smoothly, as well as successful.
was a classy and elegant affair for a classy and elegant lady, who also
happened to be celebrating 100 years of living, an entire decade. Not too many
people have those bragging rights, but Mrs. Hattie Allen does. On her birthday
March 28, 2019, she officially became 100 years old.
March 30, her daughter Mrs. Jesse Warren and family had a Saturday morning
birthday party brunch buffet for her at the upscale
Toledo Club on River Rd. In a room overlooking the peaceful Maumee River
flowing by, family members and friends gathered to honor Mrs. Allen and her 100
years of life. Can you imagine all the things she’s seen, done and experienced
in a changing world in 100 years? And, especially living in the south, as she
did most of her life, certainly there some stories that she could tell.
Allen was born March 28, 1919, in Athens, Texas to Dorothy Chancellor Barker
and Henderson Barker. At an early age, her family moved to Dallas, Texas. In
Dallas, she attended N. W. Harlee Elementary School and graduated from the
Booker T. Washington High School in the public-school system. After high
school, she went on to attend Prairie View A&M College.
she got married to Abner Allen and they were married 50 years. Together they
reared three children: Edna L. Allen (deceased), Roy E. Allen (deceased), and
Jessie Allen Warren.
Dallas, she and her husband owned and operated Allen’s Grocery and Market. They
both were generous and kind to their customers, it was not unusual for them to
let their neighbors and customers have food on credit until they were able to
pay their bill.
in Dallas, Mrs. Allen was an active member of her church, “Greater Bethlehem
Baptist Church” for over fifty years. There she served in the Senior Usher’s
Ministry, Women’s Day Ministry, and Deaconess Ministry. She was also recognized
as an honoree for a church Women’s Day Celebration.
of family, church and work, her social and civic activities included volunteering
with the American Red Cross, a Notary Public, and a poll worker during
was also considered by many to be a neighborhood and community leader because
of her business acumen. Because of this, she was honored by the Dallas Chapter
of the NBAPW Club in the area of Business.
her spare time, she enjoys hobbies including watching sports games, playing
cards games especially Bid Whist and Dominos, and using her computer and
tablet. An adventurist spirit, she also enjoys traveling and has been to San
Francisco/Oakland CA, South Africa, Hawaii and on trips to visit her
is the grandmother of three: Roy Allan Jr. and Derrick Ross of Dallas, TX. And
Melanie Gross of Oakland CA. In addition, she is the adopted grandmother of
LaShon Washington, Norita Jones and Shontrice Robago of Dallas, TX, and the
great grandmother of four.
2013 she moved to Toledo to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Bishop
Clifford Warren and became an integral part of their church, The Church of the
Living God where she is known as “Mom”.
her party Mrs. Allen had only one thing to say, “I’m just so happy’, and about
living in Toledo she said with a smile, ‘I love Toledo, all except for the
granddaughter Melanie Gross said of her grandmother, “My grandmother is my rock
and my everything. She is such an Amazing woman; she has given back to so many
people and enriched their lives. To me, this is the perfect time to give her,
her roses while she is still living.”
On Monday, March 25th the Art Tatum Center presented a special program at the Kent Branch Library Auditorium entitled, “The Soul of a Queen”, a free concert to celebrate the 77th birthday of Aretha Franklin.
Ms. Franklin who was born on March 25, 1942, and passed away in August of 2018, she left behind a legacy of music and civil right activism that will never be forgotten. Even though many have followed behind her, there will never be another one like Aretha Franklin. She was the undisputed, “Queen of Soul” who surpassed all generations and cultural boundaries with her music.
To pay tribute to her in a style only fitting for a queen the center chose a former Toledo musician and his band the Sir Kalvin Hughes Trio with guest vocalist Theresa Harris to perform for the program. Mr. Hughes who is a big fan of Aretha Franklin and an extraordinary musician himself in his own right had a personal story to tell the audience about Aretha Franklin’s Toledo connection.
After working as the musician at Warren AME Church here in Toledo he accepted a job as minister of music at Aretha Franklin’s father’s Church, New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. ‘My whole objective in taking the job was to one day meet the Queen of Soul and let her hear me play, he said. ‘Every year she puts on a gospel concert at the church and she is there in person.’
Sure enough, the time for the concert and sure enough the Queen of Soul was there and heard Mr. Hughes play, ‘Evidently she liked what she heard,’ he said. ‘because later when her regular organist took ill, she called me and asked me to accompany her to Philadelphia’ when she performed for the Pope. Following that, I became her organist and went with her on tour. ”When I applied for the job at New Bethel, I had no idea that one day I’d be playing for Aretha Franklin, I mostly just wanted to meet her, said Mr. Hughes. ‘Aretha Franklin is special to me because she opened up so many doors for me that I never thought would happen, and she took me to higher heights. I never would have gotten those opportunities if had not been for the Queen of Soul’, he said. ‘Working with her was phenomenal.’
After telling his story of his life with Aretha, Mr. Hughes and his Trio played a little lite jazz to warm the audience up. Then he invited guest vocalist Theresa Harris to join them and they tore into Aretha Franklin’s hits and standards. This was the moment the audience had been waiting for and everyone was thrilled.
The evening program began with an introduction from Brett Collins the Librarian Specialist for the Art Tatum African American Resource Center. He reminded everyone of the importance of Aretha Franklin’s music and her work in the community saying, ‘ it’s never too late to honor someone like Aretha Franklin who’s done so much for our souls, it’s important to honor legends because they are the ones who lay the footprints down for us to follow’.
He also informed everyone of the upcoming documentary Amazing Grace, the story of the making of Aretha Franklin’s largest selling album by the same name.
Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, under the guidance of Dr. Cedric Brock, held its 18th annual Black History Celebration banquet last Sunday, March 3, 2019 at the Premiere Banquet Complex and honored, the “Silent Soldiers”. These are those who have been selected as accomplishing, so much, behind the scenes. This year almost 600 people attended the event hosted by the Mt. Nebo’s Voice of Hope Outreach Ministry as they celebrated the theme of “Stepping out In Faith.”.
After the introduction of this year’s honorees, from Deacon
Alan Crawford, the church’s First Lady, Debra Brock, performed a musical
selection. The many sponsors were thanked and then Nicolle Brown offered a
special presentation as Nikketa Sugarfoot.
The Youth Ministry performed following dinner and then Sister Geraldine of St. Paul AME Zion Church made the presentation of honorees which are as follows: Dr. Karen Adams-Ferguson, MD; Barbara Allison; Marcella Cook,; Collette Crosby; Barbara Crowell; Mary Dunning; Michelle Furr; Chris Gayle; Vickie Green-Horsley; Julia Holt; Michael Key; Laverne Knighten; Levon Rayford; Freddie Roberson; Lorena Roberts; Carolyn Robinson; Gertrude Robinson; Sharisse Rowell; Edward Sanders; Norma Savage; Adrian Thomas; Rita Winfree and Alberta Witcher.
This annual event started as a dinner held in the church
dining area, 18 years ago, with an attendance of about 150 people. It rapidly
out grew that space and has been held in much larger banquet rooms for more
than a decade.
Dr. Brock said, “We celebrate the “Silent Soldiers” who have
been faithful to the community at large. We give them their flowers while they
can smell them.” The Voice of Hope Outreach Ministry is the brainchild of Dr.
Brock who sponsors the banquet to honor the unsung heroes of the city and
surrounding communities. Throughout the years, the ministry has sponsored a
number of community services, such as: Radio Outreach (1520 AM and 95.7 FM);
Adopt A Haircut Ministries at Poor Clark’s Barbershop; Adopt A Belt Outreach;
Coat Give-Away; Good Friday Ham Give-Away; Back To School Give-Away and Weekly
Broadcast NOW Network.
The master of ceremonies for this year’s event was conducted
by Larry Jones of Indiana Avenue MBC.
For two Sundays in a row, February 17 and 24th, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church celebrated its 73rd Anniversary with an afternoon service at the church. On the 17th, Rev. Dr. Jerry Boose from Second Baptist church was the main speaker. On the 24th, Rev. Dr. Willie Perryman from Jerusalem Baptist Church did the honors. Both ministers brought members of their congregations, as well as, their church choirs to join in on the celebration.
The theme of this year’s program was from Philippians 4:6, “Don’t
worry about anything, Instead Pray about everything,” This theme was most
appropriate because it reaches back to Indiana Missionary Baptist Churches humble
It was in the mid-forties when Rev. W. J. Stephenson, the pastor
of Central Baptist Church in north Toledo realized that his church was going to
lose its property due to an upcoming freeway project that was going to slice
through the heart of north Toledo. He became worried that many of his
parishioners that lived in the central city would have a difficult time getting
to church after the expressway was built.
Faced with this dilemma, Rev. Stephenson did what a man of God
should do! He turned to his Heavenly Father for help, and his help came.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he decided to resign his position as pastor of
Central Baptist and open a new church in the central city where the majority of
African Americans lived during that time period. He then contacted a fellow
pastor, the Rev. E. J. Benton along with some established church Deacons,
Trustee, pastors, church Mothers and other church-going people for a meeting.
At this meeting which took place on February 20, 1946, at 819
Ewing Street in the central city, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church was
officially organized and Rev. W. J.
Stephenson became the church’s first pastor. This was a position he would
maintain until he passed away in July of 1959. Also present at this meeting
were a group of teenagers, and unbeknownst to everyone at the time in this
group, was one who was the new church’s hope of the future. A young man by the
name of John E. Roberts who was there that night, would grow up, and one day
become one of Indiana’s most influential and beloved ministers.
As the new church progressed it quickly began to grow and it
wasn’t too long before everyone became aware that they were going need a larger
space to properly worship the Lord. Now they had a mission fulfill. So, they
started a building fund to build a new church building. Soon enough money was
raised to purchase a property at 640 Indiana Ave.
Missionary Baptist Church celebrated a mission fulfilled as they
marched singing God’s praises all the way from the old building on Ewing Street
to the new one on Indiana Avenue. Since that time the congregation has
continued to grow and so has the original structure. In time came the addition
of a ground level sanctuary, the upper-level sanctuary, the Stephenson-Roberts
Hall and a spacious parking lot to accommodate its large growing congregation.
Since the passing of the founder, Rev. W. J. Stephenson in 1959,
the church has had several pastors including the Rev. T. Wiggins in 1960, and
the Rev. F. H. Alexander 1961 through 1963.
On January 21, 1965, the young teenager, who attended that first organizational meeting in 1946, the Rev. John E. Roberts became Indiana’s fourth pastor. He later elevated his status in ministry by graduating from the Toledo Bible College in 1975 and was Valedictorian of his class. From this point on he became known as Rev. Dr. John E. Roberts.
Under his leadership, Indiana Missionary Baptist Church has become one of the most influential churches in the city. They are known for their community involvement for reaching out and helping others.
As for Pastor Roberts, he is a minister who lives his ministry, 24
hours a day, in and out of the pulpit. If you meet him out in the world, he’s
probably going to ask you two questions. One, ‘your name,’ and two, “are you
saved’? He’s a man who understands that his main purpose in life is to help us
ordinary folks find out way into God’s grace and into his heaven.
At his church, he is a continual inspiration to others and has also mentored dozens of young men in the field of ministry, many who have gone on to have their own churches.
As the church celebrates its 73rd anniversary, he had these words
of divine wisdom for his congregation, he said, “Truly God has blessed us and
smiled upon us, and I thank Him for it. We must never forget that Central
Baptist gave birth to Indiana. Thank God for Rev. W. J. Stephenson and the
pioneers like him that were with him paving the way. We must constantly pray
for our church and its ministry of redemption in a lost world as we constantly
live our lives in a way that honors Christ and his teaching.”
On February 23, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo celebrated a mass for promoting harmony, as our nation celebrates Black History Month. The highlight of the event, which took place at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral on Collingwood Blvd., was the presentation of the Catholic Diocese of Toledo Black Ministry’s Drum Major Award to four outstanding citizens.
Inspiration for this award came from the work Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’ did in his lifetime to promote harmony and justice in the world. The name of the award itself comes from a speech Dr. King’s made where he said, ‘I am a drum major for the peace and justice’. The criterias for receiving this award are also based on the values of Dr. King life and this speech.
This year’s award recipients were Dr. Helen C. Cooks, Vivian Johnson, along with and two students, Devon Williams and Malachi Wayne Wyse.
Dr. Cook is best known for her work as an educator, a graduate of Scott High School and The University of Toledo where she received her Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral degrees. She has impacted the lives of thousands of students through the Toledo Excel Program at the University of Toledo. This scholarship program is her crowning achievement.
Upon receiving her award Dr. Cook said, ‘This is the second Drum Major Award I received this year and I am proud to have received these awards. Dr. King was the drum major and the person of our time, and he still is today. It’s an honor to receive an award in his name.”
She added, “The work that I’ve done is about justice and peace and for that I’m very proud. They say he kept up trouble and they say I keep up trouble, and on that accord, we have something on common. To the young people of today I say be prepared for that which is coming ahead. The road is not easy, but the road is worthwhile, let God order your footsteps and you will make it.”
Also honored was Vivian Johnson is a lay leader at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church here in Toledo. She has served with dedication and grace for many years as chairperson of St. Martin’s Evangelization Ministry. Other ministries that she participates in are Liturgy and Consolation as well as being a Eucharistic Minister and Lector. Her prayer ministry for those who are imprisoned touch all who have been impacted by a loved one’s imprisonment.
She leads by example and is a role model to many. Her service to the church and her impact on the younger generation is immeasurable.
Davion Williams, a well-rounded honor student, has impacted his St. John’s High School community through his leadership in the school’s Social Justice Alliance, where he helps raise awareness on subjects such as housing inequality and gentrification. His activism for social causes includes his participation in the 2018 Washington D. C, “March for Our Lives” His service for credit hours include serving food to those in need, volunteering in a nursing home and participating in an Appalachian Immersion project in West Virginia where helped to run a camp for youth. He is also a talented composer of hop music.
Malachi Wayne Wyse is known for seeing the good in people and brings the best out in others. He prioritizes relationships, scholastic achievements and downplays his prowess in athletics. His character and personality marked him early as a youth with potential for leadership; leading to his selection to attend Salesian Leadership Camp. He is described humble, but his vibrant personality is brought to bear on everything he touches, including mock trial participation, performing in student musical productions, the Afro Club, Asian Culture Club and campus ministry. He fulfills his service credit responsibilities and for two years has served as a camp counselor for incoming St. Francis de Sales High School students, where he is also the senior class president.
The Drum Major Awards are given out every year, if you know someone who you think is worthy of such an honor, call Ellen Jones at the Catholic Diocese of Toledo for further instructions on the nomination process.
Last Saturday, February 23, 2019, the Community Solidarity
Responses Network (CSRN) presented the “Black Lives Matter Awards at the
Fredrick Douglass Center. With a theme titled, “25 under 45”, the group
celebrated 25 African Americans members of the Toledo community under the age
of 45, who are working to improve Toledo’s communities.
CSRN member Julian Mack said, “We are having this program tonight
because it’s important that we reaffirm the positive things that are being done
in the community. We want to encourage the younger people in the next
generation that’s coming up to continue to do the right thing. Often times, we
only hear about the negative things that are going on. When in reality there’s
plenty of positive things happening as well.”
Mr. Mack continued by explaining, “We want to reaffirm and lift up
those who are doing positive things so that can continue to happen. We want to
let them know and recognize them for their efforts, so that more people will
hopefully decide, to do the right thing.”
The 25 awardee recipients, were Dave Ross, Danny Ricardi, Timothy
V. Pettaway, Patrice McClellen, Keisha Snow-Veley, RaShya Ghee, Leigh Utley,
Tiara Armstrong, Lonnie Ghee, Sheena Barnes, Nia Snelling, Veralucia Mendoza,
Khadirah Muhammad, Rob Pasker, Lance Self, Mike Rob, Marcus Boyd, Tina Butts,
Derrick Brooks, Terrence Pounds Sr., Kwilyn Tyler, Blair Johnson, Montrice
Terry, Zia Cooke and Tony Barnes.
Brother Washington Mohammad, one of the founding members of CSRN
added, “We had this program because, we wanted to highlight just some ordinary
people in our community, doing some extraordinary things. A lot of people may
not have heard of these young men and woman, who are doing wonderful things, so
it’s up to us to lift each other up.”
The Black Lives Matter social movement materialized out of a
community need, and is today’s core civil rights movement. Just like the
original civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter has put a national spotlight
on an injustice, and by doing so has somewhat reduced the problem.
When asked where did CSRN come from, CSRN member Ruth
Leonard replied, ”The Black Lives Matter movement in Toledo started after
the lack of conviction in the case of Michael Brown. After which people in the
city were looking for a way to uplift each other and out of that effort the
Community Solidarity Responses Network came in to existence.
The Community Solidarity Responses Network meets every Tuesday at 7:30 pm at the Paul-win Center at 1416 Nebraska Ave.
They also may be contacted through the following methods: Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo Phone 419-329-8177 firstname.lastname@example.org 1416 Nebraska Ave Toledo, OH 43607
Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo, Instagram:
CSRNToledo,YouTube: Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo, Twitter:
@CSRN Toledo, and Gmail: email@example.com
On January 26, The University of Toledo’s office of
Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee presented the 35th Annual
Conference for Aspirating Minority Youth. This year’s theme was, ‘Onward and
Upward, Persisting Through Barriers and Obstacles’.
Indeed, a fitting topic for the ambitious minority
youth of today. Like most of us, when we dream our dreams, we only dream the
good things. We never imagine something bad might happen, or something or
someone may try to stand in our way. For many this is knowledge that only comes
with age and experience.
This year’s conference sought to give the young
folks a heads up, as well as, solutions to the problems they might face as they
venture into the world to pursue their goals in life. Understanding that those
situations which seem impossible to solve at the time and try to block your way
can be overcome with persistence and sheer determination is valuable knowledge.
Knowing these facts and other methods of survival is definitely an advantage in
life and that was the message of the day.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Terrell Strayhorn drove this
messages home even more during his address, telling the students, “You must
learn how to persist. Persisting requires us as aspirating minority youths to
be willing to change and adjust to our environment. You must persist through
Adding, “Someday you will encounter something or
someone, who tries to keep from reaching your goals. You must understand that
you must not let anything or anyone come in between you and that, which you are
designed to do. Persist through the barrier and discover your why. Why you are
here and what you are designed for and find your inner light. As we pursue our
greatness in the face obstacles and barriers never forget that deep inside if
us there is a light that will always be there, and even in our darkest hour we
must turn inside and connect with that light and let that light shine,” he
Dr. Strayhorn is the Founding Chief Executive
Officer of, ‘Do Good Works Educational Consulting LLS’. He has written over 10
books and is internationally recognized as a student success scholar and the
foremost authority on issues of equity and diversity.
Following Dr. Strayhorn, in the second session of
the program, was speaker and UT graduate Christopher Scott who showcased his
new book, “7 Secrets to Surviving College.” Mr. Scott who has a Masters of
Education Degree said, ‘I’m here today to uplift and teach our high school and
college bound students the 7 secrets that it takes to navigate college and be
successful in this world. I say take no losses in life. Mr. Scott is the
founder of Reach to Teach National, an organization that provides motivational
service to youth across the country.
An estimated crowd of over 350, seventh through 12th
grade students, parents and members of the community attended this annualfree
Knowing that his students would benefit from the Excel program, Dr. Romulus Durant, Toledo Public Schools (TPS) superintendent, brought students from his TPS program called, ‘Young Men and Young Women of Excellence,’ a peer to peer mentorship group.
Dr. Durant said, “I try to get our students involved
in community activities so they can become a part of the community, and one day
contribute even more to the community as an adult. We want our youths as well
as all youths to continue to aspire. We are TPS proud and very excited to be
Toledo Excel was established in 1988 and is a
community project bringing various groups together for a common purpose. That
purpose is to help underrepresented students including African, Asian, Hispanic
and Native Americans go to college, be successful there and graduate.
The first Annual Conference for Aspirating Minority
Youth was held in 1985 and continues to grow in popularity ever since.
The current Director of Toledo Excel is David Young.
On Thursday, December 20th, 2018, Center of Hope
Family Services hosted its 2nd Annual Peace on Earth Holiday event.
Sponsors included the William Vaughan Company, Apple Inc., and State Bank.
“Peace on Earth is our way of letting families and the community know that we
are thinking of them during the holidays,” states Dr. Tracee Perryman, CEO.
“Our event is welcoming of diverse cultural holiday traditions, hoping that
Peace on Earth is of value to all of us. The holiday season can be a joyous
time, but it isn’t necessarily joyous for everyone. Each year, we at Center of
Hope strive to bring the community together in unity and solidarity. We create
a safe, supportive, warm, welcoming space to let our families and community
know that we care about them.”
It seems that message is resonating with the community. The
2018 Peace on Earth attendance doubled from the year before, with about 300
guests partying to festive music. The Lucas County Juvenile Court Lobby was
transformed into a “Winter Wonderland” to foster joy, hope, and holiday cheer.
Children and families were able to participate in an array of activities. Lucas
County Juvenile Court provided craft stations, cookie decorating, and an
opportunity for each child to take pictures with Santa Claus. Center of Hope
hosted a gift giveaway for all children ages 0-14.
Midway through the program, the crowd paused to honor seven
of its Parent Support Program participants. These individuals were recognized
for graduating from Center of Hope’s Parent Education Program during the month
of December. Others were honored for maintaining employment for 90 days or more
through Center of Hope’s workforce development program.
The Central Catholic High School Glee club provided live
entertainment, followed by Dr. Tracee Perryman. The Center of Hope ELEVATE
program, winners of both the 2018 Ohio Department of Education 21st
Century Literacy Achievement, and Excellence and Innovation Awards, performed
the finale. The ELEVATE students performed their signature song, “ELEVATE,”
which they recorded this summer, and is now available on Soundcloud. Center of
Hope concluded the program by sponsored a sit-down community dinner for all
guests. For more information about Center of Hope Family Services or its
programs, visit www.cohfs.org.
After the traditional Christmas holiday ends, many
African Americans observe another celebration known as Kwanzaa. A Swahili
phrase which means ‘first’ and signifies the first fruit of the harvest.
Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and last for seven days ending on January 1, and
is based on seven core principals.
These principals are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulla (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) Ujmaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). These ideals are observed one at a time on each day of the Kwanzaa season in the order listed by the lighting of a candle each day in the Kinara, a stand which holds the seven candles. This is followed by other Kwanzaa related traditions.
Here in Toledo on the first day of the celebration, December 26, 2018. The Fredrick Douglass Center hosted this yearly activity with a community Kwanzaa event. Organized by the Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee, the event lasted for four day instead of seven do to the venue’s availability. Despite its condensed form the program still offered Toledo’s African American community as well as others the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa in grand style.
Squeezed into a shorter time period than normal, the four programs covered two core principals with the lighting of two Kwanzaa candles each day. Ending with the last principal and last candle on the final day.
Day one’s opening ceremony was hosted by Master of Ceremony Rodney Gordon Jr. of the Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee, and featured inspirational speakers, traditional African dance performances, audience participation events, community vendors, and food samples.
One of the highlights of the was guest speaker Mrs. Joyce Stubblefield, who educated and amused everyone as she explained the history of collard greens, an African American food staple. ‘Slaves were not given meats very often so they ate vegetables instead’, she said, ‘and they invented different and creative ways to prepare these items’. She introduced the audience to such ideas as the collard greens sandwich, Egg rolls and even brownies, along with many other ways to prepare this favorite vegetable. She also brought along samples of her collard greens specialties for everyone to taste.
Another outstanding speaker was from The Toledo Kwanzaa House Committee and went by the self-proclaimed name of ‘Kewate’, he spoke on the second principal of Kwanzaa urging the audience to, ‘figure out who you are and be able to discern what is true and what is not true. You are not who society says you are and everything you see, hear or read is not true. If you want to know the truth read the Bible’, he said ‘there you will find the real truth and discover who you are’.
The program also included the singing of the Black National Anthem, a Recognition of the Elders, an Ancestral Roll Call, as well as several other traditional Kwanzaa customs.
Today’s local Kwanzaa celebration evolved from a small and humble beginning back in 1967 in the house of Diane Gordon: Coordinator of the Kwanzaa House Committee. ‘I started celebrating Kwanzaa with my family first,’ she said, ‘and then others soon joined in with us and it has grown from there to what it is today. Eventually the celebration got too big for my house so we moved it to the Grace Community Center’.
This move however would not be the last. Over and over again as the crowds continued to swell the committee was forces to find larger and larger spaces for the growing audience. Finally, the group ended up at The Douglass Center in the heart of the African American community. A place that has enough room to accommodate the ever-growing audience and all the other activities associated with a true Kwanzaa celebration.
When asked, why is Kwanzaa important and what is the attraction, Diane Gordon said, ‘ Kwanzaa teaches us about our true culture and the importance of our culture. We are a family orientated people of faith and we need to learn our true history. If you know your history you won’t make the same mistake in life. It also instills in us the importance of self-respect and respect for our others. If you understand the principals of Kwanzaa you can utilize them every day and throughout the rest of our life. Kwanzaa inspires us to unite and come together as a people and build a better community. If we adhere to the principals of Kwanzaa, we will have a better way of life because these principals teach us how we should live’.
Kwanzaa was originally conceived during the African American re-identification period of the racially turbulent sixties in 1966. This unique African Americans festival of life and spirit realized it’s 52 year of existence in 2018, and has established its place in the world as a legitimate cultural tradition.
Janece Wooley, the Interim Executive Director of the Fredrick Douglass Community Associations said of the events, ‘we are excited to embark on 100 years of service to this community, and we want to continue to be the epicenter for hope and encouragement. We are very happy and proud that The Toledo Kwanzaa House has chosen us to be bless with this wonderful Kwanzaa celebration for the past three years.
The Toledo Journal is Northwest Ohio's oldest African American owned weekly newspaper. We represent the voices of our local community, Northwest Ohio, and under served populations with an unapologetic vigor.