Several years ago Arzella Stewart-McCauley was inspired by the song “Young, Gifted and Black” performed by Nina Simone. Stewart-McCauley says, “there is so much negative news about young adults and not enough recognizing the positive accomplishments that are made by so many.”

HONOREES—Phillip Wood, Darwin Copeland, Lisa Arnett and Glenn Garrett Grayson Jr.

Four years ago the young adult ministry at Saint Mark AMEZ Church, where Rev. Dr. Lamar Lee is the pastor, presented the first Young, Gifted and Black awards presentation. On March 12, at the Churchill Valley Country Club eight young adults were celebrated. Minister Lisa Arnett, teacher, Pittsburgh Public Schools; Beverly Dewberry Austin, Deputy County Clerk, Virginia Beach; Darwin Copeland, Z-Best Bar-b-Que owner; Melissa Joy Dukes, student; Glenn Garrett Grayson Jr., Bank of New York Mellon; Sean Jones, musician and University Professor; Tiffany Smith, home health care professional Moriarty Consultants, Inc; and Phillip Woods, principal Hebron Elementary School.

The early evening program was filled with spiritual and physical food. The Hon. Dwayne Woodruff was the keynote speaker. His words were brief but powerful. He spoke of the time when he was making the decision of what to do after his football career was over. He chose to pursue a career in law. He was the first Steeler to make the full time commitment to football by day and law school by night. There were times when others questioned his pie in the sky dream to finish law school. Judge Woodruff told the honorees “don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.” Judge Woodruff went on to explain his 8 D principle: Discipline, Desire, Determination, Dedication, Dependability, Desperation, Darn it anyway and Devotion.

Reverend Glenn Grayson delivered closing remarks and said, “On this day of the big parade down town we have seen a parade of stars right here in front of us.”

The Young, Gifted and Black committee are Sharon Jackson, Rev. Janice Johnson, Wanda Rowe and Yvonne Taylor.

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