Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA

Black History Month Celebration 2013

Comments by Eric Jackson

On Tuesday February 19, 2013, the Mental Health Association celebrated Black History Month. The theme of this year's celebration was "Building a Brighter Future through Education and Diversity". The Mental Health Association's faithful and guests celebrated the lives of historical Black figures that fought the battle against the evils of slavery and discrimination, enduring hardship, violence, and separation from their loved ones. They put everything on the line, many of them even gave their lives so that future generations would have access to three inalienable rights, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness". These people believed in something bigger than themselves; they had a cause, a purpose, a destiny to fulfill. Their hard won victories inspired us to lift our voices in celebration on that glorious Tuesday, so that's what we did!

Dr. Natasha Duncan informed us of the ever changing dynamics of American demographics, giving us a glimpse of her vast knowledge of domestic and international affairs. She painted a picture of our future, a land blanketed by a beautiful quilt of many hues and cultures, all contributing to the progress of our great nation. Then we were blessed by Mr. Gary Horton, who gave us the historical perspective. He painted a picture of Black history that heightened our awareness of the beauty, courage, genius and commitment of African American people. He reminded us that we have an obligation to carry the torch passed to us by those who have gone before us. It is up to us to advance the flame of freedom and protect it from those who would choose to extinguish it. In addition to these two eloquent speakers we were blessed by the soulful voice of Minister Sharon Newell who touched us with her Gospel songs. Recitals were performed by Mr. Robert Abbott (biblical scripture), Mr. Adrian Ewing (MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech), and Mr. Brian O'Connell (Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural address).

The event was topped off by the presentation of the Mental Health Association Community Service Awards, paying tribute to four people for their consistent, and outstanding service to the community over the years. The recipients were Mr. Steve Simmelkjaer, Mr. Robert Abbott, First Lady Elaine Stanton and Mental Health Association's very own Mrs. Rita Wheeler. In conclusion I would like to thank the of CEO of the Mental Health Association, Mr. Bill Grove and the outstanding staff of employees and volunteers; your hard work and dedication made this event possible.

Eric Jackson


Photo Gallary of Event

Mental Health Association Community Service Awards Recipients, from left to right: Elaine Stanton, State Simmelkjaer, Rita Wheler, Robert Abbott and Eric Jackson

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