National Pan-Hellenic Council of Metro Jackson area celebrates 90th Anniversary

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Dr. David Marion is pictured with Frontline Healthcare Award winners.

Tougaloo College hosted the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Metro Jackson who honored Dr. David Marion during their 90th Anniversary and HBCU Celebration on Sunday, August 29, 2021 in  the Kroger Gymnasium – Owens Health and Wellness Center.

Dr. Marion serves as the current chairman and council of presidents for the National Pan-Hellenic Council, presiding over 2.5 million collective members throughout the U.S. and 18 countries. He is also  the 41st international president of Omega Phi Psi Fraternity, Inc., where he leads over 200,000 members in 750 chapters in over 15 countries.

Dr. Juanita Sims Doty and Will Jemison were the Mistress and Master of Ceremony for the event, drawing an audience of approximately 300 alumni who represented  Historically Black College & University sororities and fraternities throughout Mississippi and the nation.

Each college, university, sorority, and fraternity displayed elaborate table decorations complete with identifiable colors and memorabilia that was an impressive site to see and exuded a lifetime of pride and camaraderie.

Old friendships were reignited, and new ones were established, out of mutual concern for the preservation of HBCUs with the financial support of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO) known collectively as “The Divine Nine”. These organizations  include: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.;  Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. A shout-out roll call cheer of all “The Divine Nine” was led by Dr. Doty and was met with an exuberant, primal response from each sorority and fraternity as their names were called.

The entertainment for the occasion was provided by “DJ Educator” with opening remarks by Dr. Doty and Jemison. The greetings, invocation, and occasion were offered by Kotonya Barfield, Metro Jackson NPHC, President; Latonia Jefferson-Lewis, Metro Jackson NPHC, Vice President; Floyd Williams; NPHC/HBCU 90th Anniversary Committee; and Dr. Ricky Thigpen, President and CEO, Visit Jackson.

Dr. Cindy Ayers invited the audience to participate and make bids on items donated for the silent auction, stating, “We are here to make a better path for incoming students.”

Dr. Ayers reports the silent auction raised a total of $2,400 onsite with additional donations continuing to come into the Metro Jackson Chapter office. Grammy Award winner, Bobby Rush, donated two autographed copies of his book, “I Ain’t Studdin Ya: My American Blues Story”, that will appear for auction on the Metro-Jackson NPHC website.

E.J. Russell acknowledged the sponsors of the event.

The presentation of the Dr. David Marion “Step Into Action” awards, honoring healthcare frontline workers, was officiated by Metro Jackson Chapter presidents, Maya Thompson, Dr. Audwin Fletcher, and. Rashida Jenkins Ross.

Dr. Marion addressed the crowd and made  passionate statements regarding his mentors and influences from several HBCUs, including  Dr. Bill Cooley and Dr. Johnson Peoples from his time at JSU. The Metro-Jackson NPHC presented Dr. Thomas Hudson, President of Jackson State University, with a $20K+$10K Omega Psi Phi Fraternity check for a total of $30K Endowed Scholarship that was immediately matched by Dr. Hudson and JSU. The Perpetual Endowment Scholarship will assist deserving JSU-bound freshmen from the local community.

In an unprecedented act of kindness, Dr. Marion told the audience that he would give $10K each to Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Tougaloo College, and Hinds-Utica Community College to support their scholarships. Rust College and Coahoma Community College were given monetary awards in separate events. In closing, Dr. Marion thanked his wife, Dr. Joyce Cole-Marion, and daughter for their unwavering support and told everyone, expressing, “You can’t lead if you don’t have a good woman behind you.”

Dr. Linda Daniels, Chief of Staff for Tougaloo College accepted their $10K on behalf of Tougaloo College President Dr. Carmen Walters, saying, “When you give to a scholar, your life is forever changed.”

Fifteen distinguished frontline healthcare workers were honored:

Dr. Demondes Haynes                                 

Dr. Sandra Carr Melvin

Joan Course Lewis, RN                                  

Dr. Victor D. Sutton, MPPA

Quintella Luckett, BS, MA                             

Khalilah Turner, Ed.S.

Dr. Cindy Ayers                                             

Dr. Fred Kency, Jr.

Tonja R. Murphy, MCLC                               

Dr. Reginald Rigsby

Dr. Ruby Denson, DNP, FNP-BC                 

Lucious Lewis, Jr. CRNA

Dr. Keila Brown-Jones                                         

Cheri Shannon-Archie, RN, BSN

Jeffery L. Turner, BBA, MPH, MSW

Dr. Juanita Sims Doty served as the chairman of the 90th Anniversary & HBCU Celebration Committee along with committee members and co-chairs:

Award/Honorees – Maya Thompson, Rashida Jenkins, and Dr. Audwin Fletcher

Endowed Scholarships –  Will Jemison and Dr. Damien Thomas

Auction Committee – Dr. Cindy Ayers, George Handy, and Ashley Simmons

Marketing/PR/Photography – Anita Young, Jay D. Johnson, Floyd Williams, Jr.

Ticket/Hostess Committee –  E. J. Russell and Sonya Taylor

Fundraising/Corporate Sponsors – Dr. Juanita Sims Doty and all committee members

Decorations – Sonya Taylor, Cheri Shannon Archie, and Georgia Ingram

Logistics & Catering – Latona Banks, Falanda Addison Ross, Angelia Mikel Brown, Pamela Wilson, Ursula May, and Ajuanzie Johnson

Official NPHC 90th Anniversary and HBCU Celebration sponsors for the event were:

Presenting Sponsor: Visit Jackson

Champion Sponsor: Tougaloo College/Dr. Carmen Walters

Friend Sponsors: Foot Print Farms/Water Edge Winery/Time – Dr. Cindy Ayers; Loving Health Care; Dr. and Mrs. Audwin Fletcher; and Councilman Aaron Banks

Supporters: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Yazoo  City Alumnae Chapter; Tatum & Wade, PLLC;  Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Clinton Alumnae Chapter; The Links, Inc., Jackson (MS) Chapter; Pilates of Jackson, Angelia Mikel Brown; Anita Young Photography; DeJoys Fine Foods, Dr. Falanda Addison-Ross; Pamela Burney Wilson; Newman Dental Care, Inc.; Resilience Counseling & Recovery Center, LLC; and Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance, Inc., Teresa Graham 

Patrons: Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Alpha Delta Zeta Chapter; Ursula Debi May; Ajuanzie Johnson; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Madison Alumnae Chapter

The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc. was founded at Howard University in Washington, DC (May 10, 1930) and  incorporated as a perpetual body in 1937. The national headquarters is located at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Brinda Fuller Willis, Ph.D. is a contributing writer for the Jackson Advocate newspaper since 2001 and an Independent Consultant/winner of the 2019 Mississippi Humanities Council’s Educator Award as a member of the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Speakers’ Bureau.  (bfwillis1990@gmail.com/www.brindafullerwillis.com)