A Grammy-nominated blues singer, a straight-A Harvard graduate, a veteran broadcaster and a key officer of a non-profit organization were among the honorees as the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW) presented the 2013 Audacity of Truth awards for Black achievement and service at its annual awards brunch Sept. 22.

“We think of our women as women being in the spirit of Sojourner Truth,” said Chairwoman Dr. E. Faye Williams who hosted the event. “We have the Audacity to believe that we can do what Sojourner Truth did and we have a responsibility to carry on into greater things.”

Recipients of the 2013 Audacity of Truth award are Grammy-nominated blues singer Bettye LaVette, Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior-vice president of public affairs and government relations at The Nielsen Company, Tamika Mallory, former national executive director of National Action Network, Ellie Hylton, who graduated in June with the highest grade point average in her class at Harvard College, D.C. broadcaster JC Hayward, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education President Lezli Baskerville, Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Darnell Lee, president and CEO of W&T Travel Services.

NCBW issued a posthumous award for achievement and service to civil rights pioneer Vivian Malone Jones, who helped integrate the University of Alabama and became the school’s first Black graduate, and president of the Moroccan American Network Mohamed Elhajjam.

The award is named in honor of Sojourner Truth, the 19th century African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. NCBW is now in its 29th year.

Williams is the third person to head the organization that was founded by Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-N.Y.), the first major-party Black candidate for president of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and succeeded by Dr. C. Delores Tucker. Both Tucker and Chisholm died in 2005.

“It’s hard to believe we’re still in existence 29 years later but it shows the leadership we have had over the years,” said Johnnie Scott Rice, founding chair of the Washington Metropolitan NCBW chapter and second vice chair of the national board.

Among those who said they were moved by the event was Jade Hadley-Magnus, a 23-year old senior at Howard University. “I really wanted to celebrate the legacy of all powerful women for the NCBW and it was an honor to be around them and be surrounded by so many powerful women who are just really entrenched in the fight for Black women’s rights and the rights of all Americans,” she said.

“When we do this brunch each year, I feel presence,” said Rice who considered the founder to be her mentor. “It is very important that we continue to let the young women understand that this was a struggle and it’s still a struggle and it’s about helping out people. It’s about helping young women to grow, reach and achieve their goals.”


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Taryn Finley

Special to the AFRO