PLEASANTVILLE — Mount Zion Baptist Church was packed Sunday night for a celebration of black women and youth as Black History Month draws to a close.
Speakers and organizers focused on the achievements of women of color and black high school and college-aged students during Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Theta Kappa Omega Chapter of Atlantic City’s program, “The Many Faces of the African-American Woman: Home Is Where the Heart Is, Celebrating Mothers, Caregiver and Homemakers.”
Guest speaker Fredericka Waugh, associate director of diversity and inclusion at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter, said by historical definition, black women have been abused by their oppressors.
But Waugh said that definition should describe black women as mothers, sisters, wives, aunts, daughters and girlfriends who are warriors: strong, intelligent, compassionate and tireless and who “promote unity among people of color.”
Waugh also emphasized their roles as caregivers and their importance in other people’s lives by sharing stories of women who cared for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
“There is more to the existence of African-American women than being strong and independent,” she said.
Marissa Phifer, of Mays Landing, performed a liturgical dance, which was followed by the singing trio Morghan Beasley, Shaylese Lassiter and Divinia Davis, all Theta Kappa Omega chapter members.
Representatives for Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle and Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. presented the chapter with proclamations recognizing the work chapter members have done in their communities.
Atlantic City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz presented a proclamation on behalf of Atlantic City Council.
“This salutes and extends the sincere appreciation to the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for continuing to recognize the many significant contributions of African-American women,” he read.
Eight high school and college-aged students from the Atlantic County area received youth awards for their hard work in school, volunteerism and dedication to future goals. The teens and young adults were nominated by churches and organizations such as Jack and Jill of America’s Atlantic City chapter, Princess Inc. and Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City.
Another 16 adults were recognized for their work in the community and nominated by churches, organizations and businesses such as AARP Pleasantville chapter, In His Ministry, 101 Women Plus Inc., Jethro Memorial Presbyterian Church in Atlantic City, Seniors of Newtonville and others.