Packed house, high energy, smiling faces and poignant reflections – all accurate descriptors of The New Tri-State Defender's 2013 Women of Excellence (WOE) Champagne Brunch and Awards Celebration last Saturday (April 27).
Despite a rainy start to the morning, the Memphis Botanic Gardens still provided a picturesque setting for the sixth edition of the WOE gala.
Another dynamic group of African-American women were saluted for their continued contributions and community efforts. And throughout the tribute there were reflections on the life and legacy of the late Dr. Maxine Smith, who passed on Friday – the day before the event.
Once a homeless teen parent with a crisis pregnancy, she is now a wife, mother, business owner, speaker, mentor and motivator with a testimony of overcoming the odds. Southwest's 2013 commencement student speaker, Myckelle P. Williams, is proof that the best diamonds are created through pressure.
She overcame the odds from a background of neglect and abuse and now helps empower women to overcome the traumas of their past.
Williams volunteers in many community programs focused on helping women cut off the dead roots of their past, re-generate new roots and then cultivate a healthy legacy for themselves and the next generation.
A civil rights icon to many, Dr. Maxine A. Smith was first and foremost a friend of longstanding to Peggy Cox Brewer.
Dr. Smith, who died last Friday (April 26) after an extended illness, is practically synonymous with the Memphis Branch NAACP (having served for decades as executive secretary) and education (longtime Memphis Board of Education commissioner and a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents).
Brewer, the widow of former State Rep. Harper Brewer, acknowledges and appreciates all of Dr. Smith's career accomplishments. They are just not the first things that come to mind.
The Freedom Award winning and nationally acclaimed "Three Doctors" – Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt – established residence for a day (April 30) at Frayser High School as part of Teach for America Week.
In addition to the Three Doctors' appearance at Frayser, the FedEx supported and sponsored week included FedEx executives, city officials and other notables spending time as guest teachers in classrooms throughout Memphis.
At Frayser High, students got the "real deal" from the three brothers who transcended the hard streets of "Brick City," aka Newark, N. J. Each shared his story of coming up without a father in the home, difficulties and bad decisions. Collectively they detailed the "Pact" that helped propel them to better lives through education.
Memphis celebrity couple Pat and Gina Neely rubbed shoulders with the power elite during Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Politicians, Hollywood celebrities and journalists were representative of the guests in attendance at the annual event at the Washington Hilton hotel in Washington, D.C.
"It was an amazing experience for us that will always be a great memory," said Gina Neely, co-host of the Food Network's highly rated "Down Home with the Neelys" cooking show and spokesperson for the George Foreman® Grills Weight Loss Challenge.
Parents interested in enrolling their 4-year-old children in a prekindergarten (Pre-K) program in the unified school district for the 2013-14 school year are urged to apply as early as possible. Applications are available now through May 17.
Pre-K classes will be offered at select elementary schools across Memphis and Shelby County and at partner locations. The Pre-K program is a free school-readiness initiative designed to help children be adequately prepared for kindergarten. Priority is given to families who meet low-income guidelines.
To enroll, children must:
Memphis notched runner-up status in Southern Living magazine's "Tastiest Town in the South" competition. Memphis and nine other southern cities are featured in the May issue.
"Memphis was recognized for its bountiful crossroads of 'cue, crops and rising culinary stars," according to Southern Living. "There's no denying barbeque is at the heart of the River City's food culture. Spots like Cozy Corner Restaurant and Charles Vergos' Rendezvous are bucket-list destinations."
The magazine's editors chose the top 10 "Tastiest Towns in the South" based on each town having food as a part of the its cultural identity, diverse cuisine at a variety of price points, hot chefs on the rise and a number of buzz-worthy food events. The public voted online for the tastiest of the top 10 towns chosen by editors.