West End hosts fifth annual black history in Chilton celebration

Published 2:16 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

The West End Neighborhood Watch Children and Youth Division hosted its fifth annual Celebrating Our Own Chilton County Black History Maker event on Feb. 18. The annual event recognizes individuals in and from Chilton County who have contributed to black history. Since the event began, over 80 individuals from Chilton County have been honored.

The program and event are run by the community youth between ages 13 to 19, and they handle all aspects of the ceremony serving as emcees, providing entertainment and presenting awards to honorees. WENW coordinator Francine Lewis said the engagement of the youth makes the event more meaningful to them.

“If we held an event like this with our youth in the audience, local history might not really sink in,” Lewis said in a press release for the event. “By involving them directly, that history takes on greater significance, and they also have an opportunity to get to know our honorees in a more personal way.”

2023 Chilton County Miss Relay Queen Morgan Wright, Isaiah Davidson and Braylon Roberts were the emcees of the program and welcomed guests. Various entertainment and presentations were a part of the festivities including the West End Neighborhood Watch dancers, the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church youth choir, the United AME youth choir, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church youth, Jordyn Wright and Eden Wilson.

The event began with a luncheon and presentation that recognized past and present honorees. Following lunch, 16 individuals were recognized during the celebration for their contributions to black history in Chilton County.

Bobby Agee was awarded the Gussie Saxon Founder’s Day Award, an award presented to an individual who is an example of what the organization represents. The late Doris Ann Jenkins, an event organizer who passed away in 2023, was also honored for her service.

Others honorees recognized during the celebration was Rev. Allen J. Sims, pastor at Dexter Avenue Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery; Jessica Swindle Pearson, Chilton County’s first and only black Miss Peach Queen; Carla White, the first black female principal in Chilton County; Willie Mae White, the first black assistant Chilton County Schools Superintendent; Juanita Williams Trimble, one of the first black educators at Verbena High School; Martha Ware, the first black school nurse in Chilton County; Jamie McKenzie, the first black sergeant at the Jemison Fire Department; Sheila Hall, the first black female to qualify and run for the Chilton County Commission; Rickey Pulliam, current head coach for the varsity girl’s basketball team at Chilton County High School; Chief Master Sergeant Monyette Latresa Lee Alexander and Colonel Christopher M. Hill as military honorees, and Kerry, Chris, Tracy, Perry and Chris Varner were also recognized.

Photos contributed by FRANCINE LEWIS.