By Gwendolyn H. Daniels
Texas State Representative for the 100th Congressional District and candidate for U.S. House District 30 in the Democratic run-off, the Honorable Jasmine Crockett was the keynote speaker, while Ms. Coffey Caesar of the Dallas Gospel Connection and a proud member of the South Dallas BPW Club served as the program emcee for the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc.’s 58th Annual V. Alyce Foster Trailblazer Awards Program on April 23, 2022.
The virtual event began with instrumental renditions of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “The Lord’s Prayer” by the Thom Brownlee, Jr. Jazz Quartet. President Ollie Gilstrap brought a heartfelt welcome and greetings were delivered by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (NANBPWC) Treasurer, Brittany Montgomery, followed by Dr. Terri O’Neal Ford, Governor of the NANBPWC South Central District.
Past President Marion Hill-Hubbard took the audience down memory lane visiting the life and legacy of V. Alyce Foster and sharing how the Club renamed the Trailblazer Awards Luncheon in her honor on January 11, 1986 during the presidency of Mae Frances Saulter. Ms.Foster, a charter member of South Dallas BPW Club was the creator of the signature Trailblazer Awards Luncheon.
Carla Dennis, the Club’s Director of Membership introduced keynote speaker Rep. Crockett who opened on the subject of Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying “what we saw is resilience.”
She revisited how “qualified the nominee was over and above the Justices currently sitting on the highest court of the land” and she left the viewers with three takeaways: “Be graceful; lean in on your faith; and always show love.”
South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc. awarded a phenomenal $54,200 in scholarships to deserving seniors in the DFW metroplex. Derria Money a senior at Kathlyn Gilliam Collegiate Academy received the Alberta Blair Scholarship, $7,500; Aaliyah Brown of Lake Ridge High School received the Ada Adams Scholarship, $6,500; Niara Hardin of James Martin High School received the Kathryn Mitchell Scholarship, $5,500; Ahmad Brown of Lake Ridge High School received the Ombudsman Scholarship, $5,500; Jamie Bowers of Duncanville High School received $5,000; Serenity Davis of DeSoto High School received $5,000; Rebecca Oladejo of Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy received $5,000; Kimaari Mondy of Yvonne Ewell Townview Magnet Center received $4,800; Katelayn Vault of Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet received $4,800; and Dynasty Coe of DeSoto High School received $4,600.
President Ollie Gilstrap presented Trailblazer Awards to Curtis J. Cornelious, the first African American elected as mayor of Little Elm; Luenora DeWitt, first African American Program Director in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for Region 3; and Latosha Herron Bruff, the first African American Senior Vice President of Community Engagement for the Dallas Regional Chamber.
The 2022 Humanitarian Award went to Toni Reynolds-Criner, a former youth in the Texas Foster Care System and a worker in the office of Congresswoman Karen Bass, before she founded T.C. Mentoring and Consulting LLC in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Donald Arnette, PhD, a cardiologist, author, speaker, NFL mentor and a philanthropist was named Man of the Year. Dr. Arnette has spent countless hours researching why cardiovascular disease is more prevalent in minority communities. The 2022 Youth Achiever Award was presented to Kevin Robinson, Jr. a teenage dessert entrepreneur named “The Pie Dude.”
The Association’s highest award, the Sojourner Truth Award, was presented by NANBPWC National President Sherelle T. Carper. Ms. Carper expounded on the life and legacy of Sojourner Truth and recapped the extraordinary life of Opal Lee, the South Dallas Club’s 2022 Sojourner Truth Award recipient. In December of 2021, Texas Christian University awarded Ms. Lee an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for her work as an activist and educator. Dr. Lee is a 95-year-old retired teacher, counselor, and activist in the movement to make Juneteenth a federally-recognized holiday!
Trailblazer Awards Chair Gwendolyn Hunt, Esq. gave closing remarks of gratitude, followed by President Gilstrap who delivered final remarks congratulating the Trailblazer Chair and Committee and the entire membership for their contributions in making the 58th Annual Trailblazer Awards program a huge success.
For more information on the South Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club, Inc., visit their website: www.southdallasbpwc.org; Instagram: South Dallas 1954; Facebook page: southdallas1954.