By Gwendolyn H. Daniels
Due to COVID-19, it was September of 2019 since the national award-winning Garland unit of the NAACP held its last in-person Freedom Fund event. But all that changed when they gathered with over 260 guests on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Garland, Texas.
A dynamic duo of keynote speakers in Drs. Latoya and Latonya Harris, twins who are homegrown products of the Garland Independent School District and the grandchildren of the late Mr. Gale Fields who was a pillar in the Garland community. They electrified those in attendance with their words of wisdom.
The 2010 valedictorian and salutatorian graduates of South Garland High School served up a double punch of inspiring words all centered around the NAACP’s Freedom Fund theme: “Coming Out of the Storm, Still Work to Do!” After carefully explaining the characteristics of storms, how often storms occur in a period of time, and the varied severity of storms, they ended on a positive note by saying “storms are only temporary.”
Graduating top of their 2010 high school class was just the beginning. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, obtaining both their bachelors and master’s degrees summa cum lade in sports management, they went on to Parker University where they made history again graduating as valedictorian and salutatorian of their class! Currently they own a private practice (The Blueprint) in chiropractic medicine. It services DFW families and local athletes.
Mrs. LaKisha Culpepper, Garland ISD’s Community Liaison to the African American community served as Mistress of Ceremony and members of the Austin Academy A Cappella Choir led by Choir Director Jonathan Coffield presented “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to a standing audience. The Garland NAACP’S 2022 ACT-SO winner, Miss Christina Reid, presented two classical piano selections.
Dr. Adrian Leday, Garland ISD principal at Watson Technology Center for Math and Science received the Education Award, Constable Bill Gipson received the Community Service Award, Ms. Linda Johnson received the Entrepreneur Award, former Policeman David Swavey received the Bridge Builder Award; and Mr. Harry Hoskins received the 2022 President’s Award all presented by Garland’s NAACP unit president, Mr. Ricky C. McNeal.
The premier presentations of the morning came when the Garland NAACP announced winners of nine scholarships to deserving seniors in the Garland ISD. They included Mya Dean, member of the Garland NAACP Youth Council, recipient of the Elaine Bradley Scholarship, the highest awarded for $1,250; Derek Onyia, recipient of the Goldie Locke Scholarship for $1,000 (African American senior with a 5.13 GPA, the highest in the Garland ISD); and Camray’on Sanders winner of the John Washington Legacy Scholarship awarded for $500.
Six students received $800 scholarships for being the African American senior with the highest GPA on their high school campus: A’Leena Bradley, 4.32 (South Garland High); Prescilla Aniede, 4.47 (Lakeview Centennial High); Yovia Mehretab, 4.70 (Sachse High); Soliyana Alemu, 4.31 (Naaman Forest High); Gloria Ukattah, 4.32 (Rowlett High); and Tigest Demelash, 4.58 (North Garland High).
Mrs. Ruby Adams served as Freedom Fund chair; Mrs. Carol Blakes, co-chair; Mr. Robert Ben, served as silent auction chair; Honorable Annie Dickson, co-chair; and Mr. Ricky C. McNeal serves as president of the national award-winning NAACP Garland unit.
For more information on the NAACP Garland unit, visit their website at: www.garlandtxnaacp.org.