People You Should Know

Memorial Day: Remembering Sgt. Edmond L. Randle Jr.

 

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On Jan. 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq.
 
Today is Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those that have given their lives in military service to this country. It is not just a day off from work or school or a day to have a barbecue with family and friends; it is a day to celebrate men and women such as Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr., known by family and friends as Dake.
 
On Jan. 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq. Randle was one of three soldiers who died that day when their vehicle was struck by a homemade explosive device near Baghdad. I recall sitting through Dake’s funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Miami, listening to the FAMU Band play and the moving tributes to him by friends and military officials. I'd known Dake’s parents from high school; his dad and I were classmates at Miami Central and later at Florida A&M.
 
Dake attended American Senior High for part of his high school years but continued the family tradition by graduating from Miami Central Senior High. Like his Dad, Dake was a standout musician in the Marching Rockets at Miami Central and continued at Florida A&M University where he earned a music scholarship and was a section leader in the famous Marching 100. Because he wanted to be a pharmacist, Dake gave up his music scholarship and volunteered for the Army which would help fund his educational plans. He was the type of young man not celebrated enough, in life, in this community.
 
The war in Iraq takes on a different meaning when you actually know a soldier that was killed. Like Sgt. Edmond L. “Dake” Randle, many other lives have been lost and are being lost in service to this country. On Veteran's Day, I honor several men and women I know, living and deceased, who have served and are serving this country. Dake, however, is the only soldier I know personally that died in military service. I have remembered him each Memorial Day since his death, that is the least I can do.
 
If you have loved ones who died while serving this country, take a moment to thank them, feel free to leave their names in the comments section. For all of our fallen heroes, known and unknown, thank you, you are not forgotten.
 
 

City of North Miami Beach Commission Names Street in Honor of Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime

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NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FL __ The North Miami Beach City Commission has voted to name Northeast 159th Street in honor of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime for his advocacy and trailblazing leadership in the community.  The Commission voted unanimously to name the road from West Dixie Highway to Northeast 8th Avenue "Jean Monestime Street," making it one of the longest roads named after a Haitian American in South Florida. Commissioner Michael Joseph was the prime sponsor of this resolution, and  Commissioner McKenzie Fleurimond was the co-sponsor.

"The City wanted to recognize Commissioner Monestime for his leadership, vision, and longtime support of our community's quality of life. May is Haitian Heritage Month, which makes the timing of this honor especially meaningful," Commissioner Joseph said.

Commissioner Monestime represents District 2 on the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, which includes parts of North Miami Beach. He is the first Haitian American to serve as a Miami-Dade County commissioner and the first to serve as its chair. He is also in his last tenure of office due to term limits.

The resolution passed by the North Miami Beach Commission also urges the Miami-Dade County Commission to co-designate the remaining county road section of 159th Street, from Northeast 8th Avenue to Northwest 6th Avenue, in solidarity with the municipal resolution. The co-designation awaits the confirmation of the Miami-Dade County Commission before becoming final.

 

 


Black Men’s Thoughts on the Kamala Harris Ascendency to Madam Vice President

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Kamala Harris pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University in 1986. The organization was founded on the campus with 16 students in 1908; it has grown to more than 300,ooo members.



On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, history was made when then Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, selected Senator Kamala Devi Harris to be his running mate. Harris, already a trailblazer in American politics, became the first Black women to run for Vice-President on a major political party ticket. Her nomination was celebrated by many Americans, especially Black women who are frequently touted as the backbone of the Democratic Party.

Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters were often tapped by mainstream media to provide a perspective on Harris from her undergraduate days at Howard University and the significance of her historic candidacy. We reached out to Black men, to get their perspective on the Harris ascendency to the second most powerful position in American government. Like Harris, each of these men is a member of a Divine Nine organization. Their opinions are their own.

Taj Echoles

There is nothing "by chance" in this thing called life. Every move we make-every step we take leads to our destiny and end result. If you ask anyone who attended Howard University, even for a short period of time, to chronicle their experience at the MECCA they will all say the same thing: "U-KNOW" 

"U-KNOW" the education, experiences and relationships earned at "The Real HU" will prepare you for life in ways that you can never imagine.  It will prepare you to become a Supreme Court Justice, a member of the United States Congress, or an award winning actor/entertainer. But if you ask Kamala Harris it prepared her to be the first woman and person of African descent to serve as Vice President of the United States of America. "U-KNOW" the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood. Being apart of the Divine Nine is not only a rite of passage but a bond and pledge to serve. In return, the promise of solidarity to lift one another to the highest of heights. We witnessed first hand, the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and brothers and sisters across the Divine Nine united to create history not only for Kamala Harris but for the entire diaspora. "I-KNOW" as a graduate of Howard University and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated like Vice President Kamala Harris the importance and magnitude of our very existence:

"We are the Ancestors wildest dreams..."

Kenneth Williams

As a Kappa and HBCU alumnus I’m immensely proud of Kamala Harris. I view her election as clouded. As it is obvious she is a Black woman and she is Greek, I feel that the greatest impact is reflected in her being a woman. She has broken a glass ceiling that no other woman has. Obama shattered the ceiling for all minorities on being elected President. So the impact of her being Black is not the major emphasis. However her impact as a woman is monumental.

Kionne McGhee-3

The magnitude of Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States of America as a woman and of African descent is beyond words. As a graduate of Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris and I share an experience that only individuals who have attended the "MECCA" can relate to.  As a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. I am extremely proud that a soror/sister of the "Divine Nine" has been given the ultimate opportunity to represent all Americans at the highest level. As Vice President of the United States of America...

Andre Joyce

There was a lot of work to be done, and a country that was in need of healing. Kamala Harris would bring a wealth of knowledge to the administration. A junior senator, assigned to the Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee, she would be a very good choice with great insight. 

I thought about how black men would see her and relate. Some older men, middle age men, because of her reputation, thought that she would only want to see them go to jail --- “locking black men up”. I see something very different. I see an opportunity to change the narrative for a Black woman to be a champion for not only Black people, but for everybody. I see a woman that young men would want their daughters to emulate, because if she could do it, so could they. I see her being an advocate for true justice reform.

It is time to rally behind her as she takes on her new role. We have to move on past those things that we may have heard and support her because she is our own, she is well-qualified, and has proven herself. We must pray for her and ask God to guide her as she moves. She has been the chosen one and she has the blessings of our ancestors. Kamala, you got this!

Eric Pettus

I took one look at her pledge picture and I knew that regardless of what one might think about her prosecutorial record, or her choice in a mate, she knows the struggle of Black America because she pledged in 1986 at Howard University. That was not a time....never mind. Lets just say that she could not and would not have survived pledging AKA at Alpha Chapter with 37 black line sisters and not have been one of us.

Kamala Harris reaching this milestone is what every Black Greek Letter Organization, particularly those in the Divine Nine were founded to do. Each and every member of the collective organizations should be overjoyed and extremely proud that one of us has made it to this point. It is a testament to the heights that we can achieve through our brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Applaud and support VP Harris’ achievement and dare to dream that in four years, or in eight, that she can move to President. In the meantime, the charge I will leave for my Brothers of Iota Phi Theta is to do our part to live up to our predominant motto… Building a Tradition and Not Resting Upon One! There are more Presidents and Vice Presidents among us. OW-OW



Alpha Phi Alpha Encourages, Motivates and Educates Voters with "Alpha Train" Caravan [VIDEO]

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Perhaps the Black community in Miami is on the precipice of a political and cultural revolution. Perhaps this generation of millennials will usher in a resurgence of Black unity and Black power reminiscent of Miami’s past. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, the men of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, executed a community caravan to bring awareness of the importance of the using the right to vote to effect change for our people and the community at large.

For this ambitious project, the fraternity partnered with Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only HBCU. Before the fraternity members and their supporters set out on their journey, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included dignitaries from the university’s Board of Trustees.

As the attention-getting caravan, with full escort, rolled into the first of four stops, the early voting site at the Miramar Branch Library & Education Center, the energy was immediately apparent. The featured speaker at that location was the honorable Wayne Messam, mayor of the City of Miramar and member of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter. The fraternity distributed t-shirts and bottled water to early voters waiting in line.

The excitement continued at the next stops, the early voting sites at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens and the North Miami Library. The caravan concluded at the Joseph Caleb Center early voting location, in the City of Miami, with messages from community leader and past chapter president, Pierre Rutledge and current chapter president Michael Grubbs.

More than 200 people in 70 vehicles participated in the caravan. At each of the stops, hundreds of voters and onlookers were educated on “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People,” a national program of Alpha Phi Alpha since the 1930’s when many African-Americans had the right to vote but were prevented from voting because of poll taxes, threats of reprisal, and lack of education about the voting process.

“Yesterday...I looked into the eyes of children and our seniors across South Florida and saw the impact of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, "Alpha Train" Road to the Polls. It offered hope and meaning to a community struggling to believe in the Democratic process within our country. We endeavored to wake up South Florida and let our name, example and action(s) lead the way,” said Taj Echoles, chair of Beta Beta Lambda’s Alphas In Action Task Force, the civic engagement arm of the chapter.

 

 

About Beta Beta Lambda Chapter (adapted from Chapter's website):

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter has been an active part of the Greater Miami community since its inception on November 19, 1937. Like many chapters across the country, it was established by men with a common interest in improving the community through education and public service.

The chapter’s founding members are Felix E. Butler, MD, Nathaniel Colston, MD, Ira P. Davis, MD, Aaron Goodwin, MD, Frederick J. Johnson, Samuel H. Johnson, MD, Leo A Lucas, and William H. Murrell, MD. Under the leadership of Solomon C. Stinson, Ph.D., the chapter was incorporated in the State of Florida as a legal entity on November 30, 1978. Under the leadership of Earl H. Duval Ph. D., the Beta Beta Lambda/Alpha Foundation was created and incorporated on September 25, 1995.

In June 2006, AlphaLand Community Development Corporation was created and incorporated under the leadership of Gregory D. Gay, Dana C. Moss, Sr. CPA, Lyonel Myrthil, and Eric Hernandez, Esq. The foundation and CDC are 501©3 not-for-profit organizations. The chapter’s executive board also serves as the Board of Directors of the foundation and the CDC has a separate board of directors with membership from the chapter.

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter and its subsidiaries are providing leadership through its many service activities such as Alpha Outreach, Project Alpha, Alpha-Dade Youth Sports Program, Alpha/Big Brothers & Big Sisters Partnership, Sankofa Project, Knights of Gold, Boy Scouts Troop 1906, Alpha/Head Start Partnership, Voter Education Project, and Scholarship Award Program.

 

Related Links:

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Facebook)

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated


Photos: AJ Shorter/AJShorter Photography


In Remembrance of Two Fallen Hometown Heroes on Memorial Day: Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. and Sgt. La David Johnson

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Today we observe Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day, to honor men and women who died in active military service to this country.

The very first Memorial Day was on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, S.C. when formerly enslaved Africans held a ceremony to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.

They spent the next two weeks digging up each body and giving them a proper burial to honor them for fighting and dying for their freedom. The gracious African Americans then held a parade of 10,000, led by a procession of nearly 3,000 black children dancing, singing and marching in celebration.

In keeping with the original spirit and honor of the first Memorial Day observance, we recognize the sacrifice of two heroes from Miami Gardens who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Randle Jr. and U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson.

Sgt. La David Johnson

Miami Gardens hero Sgt. La David Johnson gave his life after being ambushed in Niger on October 4, 2017. Johnson and his team members — Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed. His death captured the attention of the nation and mainly South Florida when the current occupant of the White House politicized Sgt. Johnson’s death and insulted Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in the process.

Video of Sgt. Johnson’s beautiful then-pregnant wife, Myeshia slumped over his casket in tears as it arrived home and their adorable children at their father’s funeral, tore at the heartstrings of anyone who is a human being. For many in South Florida, questions remain about Sgt. Johnson’s death. Inarguably, the nation owes him and his team members gratitude and tremendous honor forever.

Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr.

On January 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq. Randle was one of three soldiers who died that day when a homemade explosive device struck their vehicle near Baghdad.
 
Sgt. Randle attended American Senior High for part of his high school years but continued the family tradition by graduating from Miami Central Senior High. Like his father, Edmond Randle, Sr., Sgt. Randle was a standout musician in the Marching Rockets Band at Miami Central and continued at Florida A&M University where he earned a music scholarship and was a section leader in the famous Marching 100. Because he wanted to be a pharmacist, he gave up his music scholarship and volunteered for the Army, which would help fund his educational plans.
  
Despite its origins, the African American impact on the shaping of Memorial Day is mostly forgotten and ignored by the mainstream. Let’s do our part in making sure all soldiers are remembered who gave their lives in service to this country. Let’s remember the origins of Memorial Day and especially never forget Staff Sgt. Edmond L. “Dakie” Randle and Sgt. La David Johnson.

 


Happy 93rd Birthday to the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

Carrie P. Meek
Happy Birthday to one of the true living legends of Florida history, the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

 

The daughter of Willie and Carrie Pittman, Former Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Davis Meek was born on April 29, 1926, in Tallahassee, Florida. Her grandmother was born a slave in Georgia. Her parents began their married life as sharecroppers. Her father would later become a caretaker and her mother, a laundress and owner of a boarding house. The youngest of 12 children, Meek grew up in segregated Tallahassee, Florida. An honors student and track & field star athlete, she graduated from Florida A&M University (then Florida A&M College) in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education. At that time, Blacks were not allowed to attend graduate school in Florida. The state of Florida paid her graduate school tuition for her to go north to continue her studies. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1948 with a Master's degree in public health and physical education.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Meek was hired to teach at Bethune-Cookman University (then Bethune-Cookman College) in Daytona Beach, Florida, and then later at her alma mater, Florida A&M University. She moved to Miami in 1961 where she served as a professor, administrator, and special assistant to the vice president of Miami Dade College, then Miami-Dade Community College. The school was desegregated in 1963. Meek played a central role in pushing for integration. Throughout her years as an educator, Meek was also active in community projects in the Miami area.

Meek was elected Florida state representative in 1978. She would go on to make history as the first Black female elected to the Florida State Senate in 1982. As a state senator, Meek served on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Her efforts in the legislature also led to the construction of thousands of affordable rental housing units.

In 1992, Meek was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 17th Congressional District. This historic election made her the first black lawmaker to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction. Upon taking office, Meek faced the task of helping her district recover from Hurricane Andrew’s devastation. Her efforts helped to provide $100 million in federal assistance to rebuild Dade County. Successfully focusing her attention on issues such as economic development, health care, education and housing, Meek led legislation through Congress to improve Dade County’s transit system, airport and seaport; construct a new family and childcare center in North Dade County; and fund advanced aviation training programs at Miami-Dade Community College. Meek has also emerged as a strong advocate for senior citizens and Haitian immigrants.

Meek has received numerous awards and honors. She is the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degrees from the Florida A&M University, University of Miami,  Barry University, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins University. The Foundation that carries her name focuses on improving the lives of individuals in Miami-Dade County and throughout the broader community of  Florida.

We are delighted to join family and friends in celebrating the ninety-three years of awesomeness of the legendary Carrie Pittman Davis Meek and wish her many more.

[Biography adapted from The History Makers and U.S. House of Representatives History.]

 


South Miami Alphas Partner with Miami-Dade NPHC to Spread Holiday Cheer in Florida City

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On Wednesday, December 19, 2018, the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated joined the Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council to distribute Christmas gifts to the entire student body of Florida City Elementary School. The Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council hosts an annual toy collection drive to provide Christmas gifts to children who reside in low income communities.

The Council’s holiday gift market included books, action figures, balls, dolls, remote control vehicles, Legos and electronic learning devices for primary school age children. The students were allowed to select their personal gifts to take home. In total, over 400 toys were collected by NPHC local affiliate organizations (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority) and distributed at the school site. A surplus of toys which included featured hot items - two bicycles and a drone - were allocated to the school administration to serve as achievement prizes to inspire and reward student performance during the remainder of the school year.


Catchings-Smith Installed as Chair of NPHC Council of Presidents

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Deborah Catchings-Smith

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) announced the installation of Deborah Catchings-Smith, International President, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, as chair of the NPHC’s Council of Presidents (COP) for a one-year term effective immediately. 

In this role, Catchings-Smith will preside over meetings of the COP and will be its highest-ranking member. The council is composed of the elected president of each member fraternity and sorority, known as the “Divine Nine”--- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

The COP is responsible for the broad general policies of the NPHC and directing the national executive board of directors regarding activities executed on behalf of the organization.

“I’m honored to work with my colleagues and seek new ways to collaborate with the Divine Nine organizations and identify opportunities or address issues that face our organizations, communities and the nation,” Catchings-Smith said. 

 

 


Black Media Professionals Honored at Second Annual BOMA Awards

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Black media professionals honored at 2018 BOMA Awards.

MIAMI – It’s not often that you’ll hear a faith-based economist quoting the rapper Drake or have the opportunity to sit in a room filled with 150 of South Florida’s most talented black media professionals, but that’s exactly what happened Thursday, September 20, at 11 a.m. when the Black Owned Media Alliance (BOMA) held the Second Annual BOMA Awards at Miami’s Hilton Airport Hotel.

Experts from various aspects of the industry came together to honor the multi-talented individuals who have dedicated their careers to not only authentically telling the African Diaspora’s stories, but also creating economic opportunities to build its wealth and strengthen its core.

WMBM’s Debra Toomer served as the Mistress of Ceremony and Dr. Lance McCarthy – a nationally recognized Faith-Based Economist and Investment Advisor with a specialty in Urban Development – delivered the keynote.

After giving some staggering statistics, McCarthy challenged the audience to implement the 3Cs of consciousness, currency and communications to enrich the Black community.

“We’ve had the DNA of black business owners since the beginning of time. We know black history, but not black business history. …We don’t need any more programs, we need projects. How do we put information out there continuously on black wealth? How do we create a platform to be able to move our agenda forward,” McCarthy asked.

“The sin is not being blind, the sin is not being deaf, the sin is not doing what God called you to do,” McCarthy continued, saying Drake got it right when he said “YOLO (You Only Live Once),” “God’s Plan” and “Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here.”

Honorees included: Teri Williams, President of OneUnited Bank as BOMA Champion of the Year; Bernadette Morris, Founder and Chairman of Sonshine Communications as BOMA Icon of the Year; Publix as BOMA Advocate of the Year; Sandy Walker, Publisher of The Gospel Truth, as BOMA Vanguard of the Year; Peter Webley, Publisher of Caribbean Today, as BOMA Visionary of the Year; and John Yearwood, Yearwood Media Group, as BOMA Luminary of the Year.

Award winners included:  Hip Rock Star, Marketing Firm of the Year; S.A. Nelson & Associates, PR Firm of the Year; WOW Factor, Advertising Agency of the Year; The Mosaic Group, Black Advertising Agency of the Year; Calibe Thompson, Blondie Ras Productions, Inc., Best TV Communicator of the Year; Lynda Harris, Independent Financial Advisor, Best Radio Communicator of the Year; Russell Motley, MIA Media Group, Best Print Communicator of the Year; Tracy Timberlake, Timberlake Ventures, Best Digital Communicator of the Year; LaShannon Petit, PRPL Miami, Best Social Media Communicator of the Year; David Muir, Photo/Video Journalist of the Year; and Arriale Henry, The Westside Gazette, BOMA Rising Star Award.

In addition to serving as the MC, Toomer received the President's Award for her commitment to excellent service and BOMA President Dexter Bridgeman received the first Spirit of Dexter Bridgeman Award, an annual award created in his honor as the organizing founder of BOMA.

Bridgeman said the organization was created in 2015 to address the disparity that exists in South Florida for black-owned media outlets when it comes to receiving viable economic and financial opportunities.

 


Relaunch of Black Education Advocacy Organization Honors Local Educational Leaders Sept. 6

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Under the leadership of Miami-Dade County School Board Member, Dr. Steve Gallon III, the education community is excited about the relaunch of the Miami-Alliance of Black School Educators Black School Educators (MABSE), the local affiliate of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). You don't want to miss their inaugural Legacy of Excellence In Education Awards Dinner & Membership Drive, on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at NoMi Bar & Grill, 738 Northeast 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161. The evening has been designed to reinvigorate the local community's premier organization advocating for education of all children of African descent and to honor outstanding Educators from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

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Congratulations to the 2018 MABSE Excellence in Education Honorees:

Dr. Solomon C. Stinson
Dr. Geneva Knowles Woodard
Ms. Johnnie Batist
Ms. Valtena Brown
Dr. Derick McCoy
Ms. Bernadette Toussaint Pierre
Mr. Derek Negron
Ms. Cisely Scott
Ms. Tawana Akins

Tickets can be purchased online at ExcellenceInEducation2018.eventbrite.com. Seating is limited and there will be no on site ticket sales. For more information, contact Vanessa Woodard Byers at info@mabse.org or (305) 879-6442.