Keynote speaker Jamal Simmons told those attending the annual Black History Observance Breakfast Monday morning, “It’s time to make new black history.”
The political commentator and host of “The Root 100” on the Aspire television network told his audience that now is the time to figure out what they want to do for their community to make it better. He said they should find a problem and think of a solution.
The annual event in the Columbus Convention and Trade Center raises funds for The House of Mercy a homeless shelter in Columbus. Contributions in the past have paid for the addition of medical and dental clinics as well as placing gravel in the parking lot.
Among those in attendance at the breakfast were Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe.
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Usually, one person is honored each year with a Legacy Leadership Award. It is given to local citizens and organizations that have shown a continuing commitment to improving the African American Community.
This year, more than one award was given.
Honored for work in their community were the Rev. Willie Phillips, the president of Winterfield on the Move Against Drugs, and his wife Therese Phillips.
Also presented a legacy award were Russell County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bellamy and Columbus Mayor Pro-Tem Evelyn Turner Pugh.
“This is shocking. This is wonderful,” the reverend said after receiving the honor.
The couple asked those present to keep praying for them.
Upon getting her award, Pugh said she felt “blessed” and encouraged others to work for the betterment of the community.
Bellamy said the award was a surprise and he was honored by it. He said it was important to have events such as the breakfast to let young people know that they can be successful.
He said that until he got to college he had never even met an attorney. “It is important to be a mentor,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, who introduced Simmons, said the breakfast helps “reflect the contributions African Americans have made to this community.”
Simmons said that nobody has loved this country more than African Americans.
“Black people loved America when America did not love us back,” he said.
He praised President Barack Obama for his accomplishments.
“Being a role model for every black boy and girl is part of his agenda,” Simmons said.