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Education, history focus of fundraising banquet

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The focus was steady on education and the betterment of the community during the 21st annual Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation Fundraising Banquet on Saturday night in the Memorial Student Center on Marshall University's campus.

The event, which also is an award ceremony, pays tribute to Carter G. Woodson, a graduate of Douglass High School who became known as the "Father of Black History," in addition to providing an update on the foundation's efforts throughout the community, said foundation president Newatha Meyers.

Just like Woodson, the foundation makes education a priority in all of its ventures, said Meyers.

"Education was very, very important to him," said Meyers. "Really, the scholarships and educational opportunities we give out are for all students, not just black students. I think a lot of students might see the foundation and think, 'That's not for me,' but, really, there are so many opportunities for them that they are missing out on."

This year's scholarship recipients were Ciana Crawford, Dominique Gipson and Jordan Turner, all of whom will graduate from Huntington High School this year.

The students were honored for their accomplishments just before Joan C. Browning, of Greenbrier County, W.Va., gave her keynote address.

Browning was a participant of the Freedom Rides in 1961, during which civil rights activists rode buses into segregated towns in the U.S. to challenge the lack of enforcement of civil rights laws.

She has appeared on the Oprah show, met with President Barack Obama and addressed Congress about the experience.

Recently, she has researched Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith, known as "Bricktop," another Greenbrier County native who entertained guests around the world during the jazz era before returning to Greenbrier County and opening her own jazz club.

Browning said it is a pleasure to be able to talk about all of her civil rights and research experience with members of the foundation, who she said are vital to the preservation of the country's history.

"Some of the most ordinary looking people have some of the most interesting stories to tell if you are willing to talk to them," said Browning. "Anything this foundation does to keep the life and achievements of Carter G. Woodson alive is wonderful because of how much he contributed to our history."

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