FORT LAUDERDALE – The Annual Friends of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) Luncheon presented awards to 15 distinguished achievers and community activist. The program was held on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale Conference Center. During the program guests were entertained with music by saxophonist Alex Dean.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the 97-year-old Ethel Mizell Pappy who was born in Dania to pioneers Isadore and Minnie Mizell. Pappy, a career educator and an early advocate for library services was one of the founders and first president of the Von D. Mizell Library in 1975. This Friends group became the Friends of AARLCC in 2002.
Honorees for Community Service and Distinguished Achievement included Rev. Michael Anderson of Dania, pastor of Jerusalem First Missionary Baptist Church of Hollywood for more than 20 years. He is involved in various facets of community development.
Honoree Leonard James Foster, a retired Broward County teacher and a member of First Baptist Church Piney Grove, is involved in a variety of human services in his church and community, including assisting the elderly, feeding and clothing the needy, as well as mentoring and tutoring students.
Honoree Julie Hunter served as director of AARLCC when it opened in 2002. She later became associate director for Public Service in the Broward County Library System. However, she continued to support and give guidance to the AARLCC staff.
Honoree Albert C. Jones currently serves as vice mayor of Dania Beach. He was reared in Dania and graduated from Attucks High School. After graduating from college, he became an educator with Broward County Public Schools. He has held various positions with County Boards, including serving as a County Commissioner.
Honoree Barbara Humphries Jones is part-owner of Milton Jones Development Corp., a company that provided affordable housing in Broward County. Jones and husband Milton made a $50,000 contribution to AARLCC in support of the $7 million fundraising effort to build the library. She continues to support AARLCC programs and activities.
Honoree Richard Allen Kurtz, managing funeral director of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home, has served many civic organizations and clubs, including organizing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Committee and as president. He also served as president of the NAACP for 10 years. He has continually supported AARLC’s programs.
Honoree Laura Bryant Martin began her educational career in Broward County as chorus director for Blanche Ely High School. Over the years, she served in the school system in various capacities, including as assistant principal of South Plantation High School. She has been involved in a variety of programs and projects with local and national organizations including the Charmettes and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Honoree Charles “Chuck” B. Morton Jr. served 37 years as assistant prosecuting attorney in the office of the State Attorney Michael J. Satz 17th Judicial Court in Fort Lauderdale, retiring as the chief assistant state attorney in 2013. He is a longstanding adjunct law professor at Nova Southeastern University School of Law in Fort Lauderdale.
Honoree Laura Richardson is the Director of Oakland Park Community Development Center Inc. and is responsible for the care and welfare of seniors who attend the center. The mission of the center is to improve the mental, physical, financial, spiritual health and wellbeing of mankind.
Honoree Frances L. Smoot spent 32 years at Sunland Park Elementary School serving in the office as secretary, budget keeper and upon retirement she was serving as a confidential secretary. She has served as president of the Broward County Retired Teachers Association and is very active in her church and homeowners association.
Honoree Anthony “Tony” Thompson a founding member of the Vinette Carol Repertory Theatre, founded the African- American Children Theater Workshop and is director of his own theatre company, which specializes in telling stories from African-American experiences.
Honoree Rev. Dr. Fredrick C. Williams, son of McKinley and Cynthia Williams, a product of the Broward County School System and a graduate of Clark University, received his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University and is now the assistant superintendent of Dublin City Schools and Pastor of Turkey Creek Missionary Baptist Church.
Honorees for Heritage and Community Service included Honoree Albert R. McWhite, son of the late Albert and Carrie McWhite, who has owned and operated for 15 years McWhite’s Funeral Home, the largest minority owned funeral home in Broward County. McWhite is very active in “giving back” and helping to promote an agenda for positive growth and development of our youth.
Honoree Assistant Chief Anthony C. Williams, a graduate of Dillard High School, joined the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in 1993, where he has served in various capacities and currently serves as assistant chief of operations. He is president of Zeta Chi Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and an adjunct professor at Florida Memorial University.
President Janice Henry expressed thanks and appreciation to the honorees and attendees and solicited their continuous support of AARLCC’s programs and activities. Edith Gooden Thompson and Karen Smalls were co-chairs of the event. She gave special thanks to former Broward County Library Director Samuel Morrison for his continued support of AARLCC’s activities.