Judge John Allen becomes first African-American Rotary president

First black leader vows to promote service club's accomplishments

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 11, 2012 

Superior Court Chief Judge John Allen was installed Wednesday as the first African-American president of the Rotary Club of Columbus.

He assumed the position held for the past year by the Rev. Jimmy Elder, pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbus.

"I can't fill Jimmy's shoes, because he walks on water," Allen joked after being pinned by Elder. "And I can't wear his hat, because he has a halo."

Allen said one of his chief goals as president will be to promote the club's accomplishments in the community.

"We've been challenged to raise the awareness of this club," Allen told the audience.

"I know you are very modest in your giving, and you don't like to toot your own horn. Well, I'm going to have to learn how to play a soft melody, I guess, and get the story of this club out to the public."

Before handing over the gavel, Elder thanked the club membership for all they have done to make his presidency memorable.

"This is a room full of good people," Elder said. "You care for each other, you love each other, you've offered your best to each other. So I leave you with just five words: Thank you for the privilege."

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