Department of Children and Families Release: More than 125 Join DCF to Celebrate Local African-American Leaders During Black History Month Event Rev. Holmes speaks about importance of strong families to ensure successful communities
TALLAHASSEE— More than 125 local leaders, advocates and others joined the Department of Children and Families at the Old Capitol Museum today to celebrate Black History Month and the achievements of local African-Americans.
The theme of the event was “Strengthening Families: One Family at a Time.” Secretary David Wilkins spoke about the importance of Black History Month and hearing Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech for the first time at age 22. “I was mesmerized,” he said. “It was an exciting moment to see that one man can make such a difference in society.”
Secretary Wilkins talked about the issue of poverty in our society today and how communities need to better support those living in poverty, regardless of race.
“This is the segregation of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ We throw them money without being engaged,” he said. “We are going to be working to try to outline a different vision to help those who need help. We need people to invest in people. That’s what we’ve lost in society.”
James Barkley, a former foster youth, spoke about the importance of the love and support he and his brothers have received from their foster family, Guardian ad Litem, the community and the Department of Children and Families. He has now become a mentor and is helping other foster youth improve their chance at becoming successful adults. James and his brothers, Xaviar and Quanterious, were honored at the event.
The Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr. from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church gave the keynote address, focusing on how stronger families build stronger communities.
“When our families are strong, our communities will be strong. Our schools will be strong,” he said. “Black History teaches us that family is the most critical link in the upbuilding of the young and the protection of the elderly and the weak.”
The Rev. Holmes, the pastor at Bethel for more than 25 years, is also the president and founder of the National Save the Family Now Movement.
“We must do more to save and sustain and strengthen all families,” Rev. Holmes said. “We can’t have a strong community unless we save the family.”
The honorees this year were:
· Mayor John Marks, City of Tallahassee
· Coach Joe Taylor, legendary retired Florida A&M football coach
· Ronald Brise, Chairman, Florida Public Service Commission
· Cynthia Douglas, adoptive parent and owner of Cynthia’s Wig Boutique, which gives free hair and accessories to chemotherapy patients
· Beverly Johnson, Dependency Case Management Supervisor for DISC Village
· Angela Wills, K-5 Assistant Principal, Florida State University School
· Nana Gatlin, DCF Hotline Training and Development Manager
· Ron Ringo, DCF Children’s Legal Services Attorney and volunteer coach for disadvantaged youth
· Aldrea Nicolson, DCF Child Protective Investigator
· Gary and Josephine Montgomery, founders of Living Stones International Ministry, which is dedicated to strengthening families in the Big Bend.
· The Barkley Brothers – Xavier, James and Quanterious – Independent Living Youth. These boys are an amazing group of brothers who have matured into remarkable young men and are already on their path to success.