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Strength of marriage displayed at ‘Salute to Families’ celebration


Mayor A C Wharton and his wife, Ruby Wharton, were among 60 couples from all across America honored during the First Annual “Salute to Families Celebration” created by The National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc.. by Julia Griggs
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Mayor A C Wharton and his wife, Ruby Wharton, have been married for 40 years. On Saturday, the Whartons were among 60 couples from all across America honored during the First Annual “Salute to Families Celebration” created by The National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc..

The Baptist Ministerial Association Male Chorus during the Friday Night Gospel Concert. (Photo by Earl Stanback)

Tallahassee, Fla., mayor John Marks and his wife, Jane Marks. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)

Dr. James Ammons, president of Florida A&M University, and his wife, Judy Ammons. (Photo by Tyrone P. Easley)

“This event means a lot to the both of us, it gets better and better each year,” said Mayor Wharton, honorary chairman of the event. “If we fail at home, we fail everywhere. No success anywhere can compensate for failure in the home.”

Saturday’s celebration at the Holiday Inn Select–Memphis Airport at 2240 Democrat was part of a two-day affair that also included a Family Gospel Concert at St. Stephens Missionary Baptist Church on Friday evening. And on Saturday morning, the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson delivered a powerhouse message during an ecumenical breakfast back at the Holiday Inn.

The salute to couples married 40 years or more also honored Mayor and Mrs. John Marks of Tallahassee, Fla. Other couples included Dr. James Ammons and Judy Ammons, President and First Lady of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee; Dr. George Cooper and Diane, President and First Lady of South Carolina State University; and Dr. Larry Rivers and Mary Rivers, President and First Lady of Fort Valley State University.

The honorees walked the red carpet as they were awarded and recognized for 40, 50, and 60 years of marriage.

“Pop culture and social analysts are saying the family is in trouble and 44 percent of black Americans believe that marriage is obsolete, meaning the family is obsolete also, based on statistics,” Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., president and founder of The National Save the Family Now, Movement Inc., said during an interview with the Tri-State Defender.

The event and its celebration of couples that have “stayed together through test and trials for over 40, 50 and 60 years ”was a testimony and testament to the power of the family,” said Holmes.

“My future plans and what’s next after Memphis is to launch 25 Save the Family Now Movement chapters across America by the end of this year,” said Holmes.

Save the Family Now also will spearhead a march to promote marriage and families in November. There will be a focus on African-American greatness, as well as deal with issues and challenges that desecrate family value, and family principles.

Mayor Marks of Tallahassee said, “Family is the backbone of everything and without family nothing is possible….The National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., is necessary to keep all families together especially in the African-American community.”

Dr. Ammons of Florida A & M University, said, “No better time than now for African American families to be recognized for the role (they play) in society. Also, we all have to work to strengthen the unity.”

Dr. Rivers of Fort Valley State University said, “Tonight was a great night for African Americans during African American History Month rededicating us through the African American family.”

Also honored were the late Bernal E. Smith Sr. and his widow, Emerle Smith, t

“The recognition of my father and mother was truly a significant honor for our family. My parents would have celebrated 47 years of marriage this June, a blissful loving marriage that overcame obstacles and challenges towards an uncommonly strong bond of togetherness and oneness,” said Bernal E. Smith II, President and Publisher of the Tri-State Defender.

“Even in my father’s two-year battle with colon cancer their love for one another seemed to grow stronger as my mom showed an unwavering sense of compassion and dedication to her life mate. She was there with him until my father’s final moments. To have that kind of special bond recognized, even in my father’s absence, was uplifting and encouraging to me and our entire family.”

Smith said the vision of Holmes to honor dedication and strength among African American families, and married couples specifically, was commendable and much needed in the community.

“Young people need to see these kind of examples of commitment as a model for their relationships and as a foundational way to strengthen our community as a whole.”

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