Saturday, February 12, 2022, the Friends of the Dunbar Jupiter Hammon Public Library commemorated Black History Month with a fun, entertaining and enlightening program following the national Black History Month theme “Black Health and Wellness”.Activities took place both inside and outside on the library grounds. DJ Sean provided lively music throughout the day. Vendors from Lee Health, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Lee Health Mobile Clinic bus, UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program, food vendors, storytellers and more.
The highlight of the program was the panel discussion led by Gerri Ware. Panel participants included: Mrs Flora Blackshear, Mrs. Ruby Hendley and Dr Duane Cumberbatch. The female panelists discussed their personal experiences as RNs including the accessibility of healthcare serves for Blacks during segregation and the difficulties of early days integration in Lee County.
Dr. Cumberbatch was able to talk about his personal journeys to become a doctor.
The panel also talked about the major health needs and issues of Black face.
FRIENDS worked with the library staff and the support of STARS;Lee County Black History Society and the Dunbar Community School.
We have a very fine library which houses the largest collection of African American books and materials in the county. Many wonderful services and programs are availability regularly to the public especially children.
FRIENDS exists solely to support the library. FRIENDS needs the support and participation of the community.Pick up an application to join at the library.
Most importantly, get a library card and use our library more.
Story by Janice Cass. Photos by P.D. Williams.
The 24th Annual Lee Pitts Live Person of the Year Awards Gala was a huge success. There were 25 individuals awarded along with one Church of the Year: First Assembly Cornerstone. The invitation- only gala was sponsored by The North Law Firm. Family and friends of the honorees filled every seat in the American Legion Post 38 downtown Fort Myers. They witnessed the contributions of many known and un-known citizens of the area who represented the true meaning of a “can do” spirit.
Laughter and serious moments peppered the venue as Lee Pitts, host and executive producer of Lee Pitts Live on WINK-CW 6 and the founder on his Persons of the Year Award, interviews each honoree in front of the over 200 people audience. The entire program will air on TV in March.
Congratulations to all the honorees listed:
1. Capt. Tabatha Jackson Carter - Superior Role Model
2. Aubrey Daniels
3. Coach Dwayne Donnell Game Changer
4. Altemia Diggs
Female Business Leader
5. Amy Zamot
6. Riley Ware
7. Angelette Arias
8. Gwynetta S. Gittens Trailblazer
9. Willie Battle
10. Willie Green
Civil Rights Icon
11. Teasha Green
12. Benita North
13. John Tobler
Minority Owned Business
14. Leroy “Doc” Irwing Performing Arts
15. Pastor Gregory Ford Church Of The Year
16. Dr. Cindy Banyai
17. Earnest Wilks
18. Johnny Streets
19. Jarrett Eady
Diversity And Inclusion Champion
20. Marcia Davis
21. Timothy Jones
22. Lori Feig
23. Ty Belford
24. Sgt. Lamar Campbell Youth Development
25. Officer Yvette Dominque
26. Oliver Castellanos Public Safety Innovation
By Ashley Graham
The first Black reporter to walk through the doors of Waterman Broadcasting originally had no plans to work in television. It was Veronica Barber’s voice that brought an opportunity she’d never imagined.
“It just seems like doors always opened for me in a weird sort of way.” In 1974 she heard about a job opening here at NBC-2, dubbed TV-20 at the time, behind the scenes as a production assistant.
“You have to keep in mind, this was just a few years after integration,” she said. “So there wasn’t a lot of jobs in that field open.”
Barber said the news director happened to walk by during that interview and heard her voice through the door. He immediately asked her to do another interview for a different role at the station.
“He put me on the set and he gave me a two-line blurb to read. But in that process he received a phone call, and was gone for about five minutes,” Barber said. “And I memorized the lines so when he came back and he did the countdown, 3-2-1, I just looked into the camera and did what I saw people do on TV and spouted the lines. And that’s pretty much how I got the job.”
Just like that, she became NBC2’s first Black TV reporter. “I covered city council meetings, I covered news that was going on at the time. So they gave me the freedom to do a lot of the things that a lot of reporters are doing today.”
Barber would often find herself connecting with people in the Dunbar community, where she was raised. “I don’t think the community was surprised. I think they were very proud. They talked about it for years and the older generation, they remember me from those days. It was more of a surprise to people who saw me out in the field.”
After two years on TV she moved on to work at the News-Press. It wasn’t long before she found a new way to use her voice. “Radio, again like television, was not a part of my plan in life,” Barber said. “I thought they wanted to have me do some voiceovers but they said ‘No, we want to hire you to go on the air.’ So that’s how I initially got into radio at WSOR.”
She spent 10 years at Moody Broadcasting, took a two-year break and then moved to Kingdom FM 91.5, a local gospel radio station, where she’s spent her Saturdays for the last 17 years.
Seven years ago she joined a team to help create the Community Press, a newspaper made by and for the Dunbar community. “We started out in 2015 with about 16 pages and now we’re up to running anywhere from 32 to 40 pages, full coverage,” she said. “I’m very proud to say that we, I believe, have become the link in the community, because now everyone knows what’s going on with everyone.”
On print, in our ears and on our screens, Barber has been there for Fort Myers, the only place she could ever call home. “I’ve always been committed to the community and being a part of the community, even though I really don’t talk a lot about what I do. I just do what I do,” she said.
The NBC2 interview with Veronica Barber can be seen at: https://nbc-2.com/news/local/2022/02/22/nbc2s-first-black-tv-reporter-details-her-time-in-swfl-broadcasting/amp/.
Reprinted with permission of NBC2.
The National Black Lawyers - Top 100 is pleased to announce that Kathy Dupuy-Bruno of School Board of Lee County in Fort Myers has been selected for inclusion into its Top 100 Black Lawyers in Florida, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field. Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers.
The National Black Lawyers is a professional honorary organization composed of the Top 100 Lawyers who represent individuals and businesses in the American legal system. Membership into the organization is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to attorneys who excel in their profession or promote diversity. The National Black Lawyers is one of very few preeminent organizations in the United States established to promote the nation’s top black attorneys and is designed to enhance the professional development of its members.
The National Black Lawyers – Top 100 provides accreditation to these distinguished attorneys, and aims to provide essential legal news, information, and continuing education to their members.
With the selection of Kathy Dupuy-Bruno by The National Black Lawyers – Top 100, she has shown that she exemplifies superior qualifications, leadership skills, and performance in his areas of legal practice. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research.
The National Black Lawyers – Top 100 is an essential source of networking and information for black attorneys throughout the nation. The final result of the selection process is a credible and comprehensive list of the most outstanding black lawyers chosen to represent their state.
To learn more about The National Black Lawyers, visit http://www.nbltop100. org/.
It was a great afternoon for the Mayor’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Council’s Cultural Sunday at the Alliance for the Arts last month. Attendees enjoyed music by Karibbean Groove, food by Chelle’s Special Touch, local vendors and fresh produce. Community Engagement Chair, Kathy Dupuy-Bruno, described the afternoon as a beautiful cultural event. “This amazing event that brings the different cultural groups together was organized by the Mayor's Diversity, Equity and inclusion Advisory Committee that I am honored to chair.” She gave special thanks to Ahmed Khan and Molly Deckart, CEO of the Alliance for providing the beautiful venue and Mayor Kevin Anderson and wife Krista for their attendance. Cultural Sundays will be a quarterly event.
The brothers of Omicron Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. had an amazing return of their Annual “Pre- Super Bowl Jam” which took place at the American Legion Post 38 on February 12, 2022 in downtown Fort Myers.
The evening launched off with great music provided from Ft. Myers’ best DJ voted hands down by none other than the notorious Mr. Todd “REDD DOGG” THOMAS, member of the “Divine 9’s” Fort Myers Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
The event is held each year the Saturday evening before Super Bowl Sunday in an effort to raise funds for scholarships for deserving area students who want to pursue a college degree of their choice. The chapter adopted this event back in the late 1980’s by offering a relaxing evening for locals to come out and enjoy a night of fun with food, fun and dance wearing their favorite NFL team jerseys to gather together and talk sports, hang with friends and family within the community and surrounding areas. The event also boasted fun with door prizes consisting of gift cards to local restaurants and visa gift cards to retail stores. There was also a 50/50 raffle prize given away to one patron which allowed them to receive a portion of proceeds collected at the door. Each year the event brings out hundreds to come and relax and mingle with others in a fun and safe environment which includes a great step / hop show put on by the brothers of the local chapter that wows the crowd each time they perform.
The men of Omega take pride in working with the youth of their communities to assist them in their development in life surrounded around their cardinal principles in which the organization represents of MANHOOD, SCHOLARSHIP, PERSERVERANCE, and UPLIFT. The cardinal principles were adopted at the fraternities’ inception on the campus of the World Renowned HBCU of Howard University in Washington D.C in their science hall building on a rainy Thursday night on November 17th1911 with three young undergraduates named EDGAR AMOS LOVE, OSCAR JAMES COOPER and FRANK COLEMAN along with their faculty adviser Dr. ERNEST EVERETT JUST. The fraternity focuses their strength on their cardinal principles with efforts to enlighten young men of all ages and nationalities & cultures to build character that represents all four principles in order to assist them in being the best they can be as men for themselves, their families and their communities wherever they reside. The fraternity also boast of many men who have become successful Entrepreneurs, Physicians, Lawyers, Philanthropist, Educators, and Professional Athletes just to name a few. The annual event took a brief paused back in 2020 & 2021 due the COVID-19 Pandemic but has returned full force with the intentions of gaining ground for larger scholarships and other endeavors that will benefit students of Lee County and surrounding areas. The chapter also has a thriving Lamplighter’s program which educates young men on life skills and many other tools of knowledge they will need as they grown into their own livelihoods.
The Brothers of Omicron Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Fraternity of Ft. Myers Fl is alive well and strong under the leadership of their Basileus Bro. Forrest Walker Jr., Vice Basileus Bro. Eric Brounson, Bro. Aubrey L. Daniels, Keeper of Records & Seals, Bro. Giovanni Robinson, Keeper of Finance, Bro. Bernard Davis Sr., Keeper of Peace and Bro. James Buchanon, the chapter’s Chaplain. The local chapter also recently completed the rebuilding of their foundation building on Blake Street in Ft. Myers FL. after a fire destroyed their previous facility back in 2014.
Hats off to the Omicron Beta Beta Chapter for their tireless efforts to serve their community and uplifting endeavors!
Photos by PJacquie Matthews Williams.
1908 – ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INC., Mrs. Tiffany Powe Salters, Basileus
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. is the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority. The sorority was founded on January 15, 1908, at the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., by a group of sixteen students led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. During the 110-year history of the sorority, they have partnered with local communities to solve problems as well as provide programs of service at home and abroad. They have enthusiastically presented their signature program, #CAP, which is the abbreviation for College Admissions Process and focuses on motivating and assisting young people through the college entry process, along with five program targets and seven Community Impact Days. HBCU support, health and wellness, the arts, and economic well-being are among the critical issues impacting the quality of life for African Americans that the sorority plans to address during the next four years. The sorority is one of the nation's largest Greek-letter organizations consisting of college-educated women of many diverse backgrounds from around the world and serves through a membership of more than 300,000 women in 1,024 chapters in the United States and several other countries. The Theta Nu Omega Chapter is part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The sorority is always happy to embrace other sororities in its mission of service to the community.
1913 – DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INC., Angelette Arias, J.D., Chapter President
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was founded on January 13, 1913, by twenty-two intelligent college educated women at Howard University and currently has over 350,000 members and more than 1,000 chapters internationally. The founders of this illustrious sorority based their identity and programs on Christian principles. Sisterhood was established as the core of the sorority’s identity. The sorority’s sisterhood engages with members of the National Panhellenic Council at the national and local levels to ensure that all chapters embrace sisterhood. Delta Sigma Theta prides itself in working collectively with other Black sororities and Greek letter organizations to assist in providing public service initiatives among all persons without regard to race or nationality, especially to our youth and our seniors. The sorority’s mission is centered around its Five-Point Program Thrusts: Economic Development, Educational Development, Physical and Mental Health, International Awareness and Involvement, Physical and Mental Health, and Political Awareness and Involvement, with Social Action being the primary focus. In 1965, thirteen visionary Delta women chartered the Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter. In doing so, the Charter members implemented the policies and procedures of Delta Sigma Theta from a national level to our local community. For more than fifty-seven years, the Delta chapter has continued collaborating with other Greek letter organizations to continue its mission of scholarship, sisterhood and service to their community.
1920 – ZETA PHI BETA SORORITY, INC., Dee Henderson Young, Basileus
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded January 16, 1920, at Howard University, Washington, D.C. The Klan was very active during this period and the Harlem Renaissance was acknowledged as the first important movement of Black artists and writers in the U.S. This same year the Volstead Act became effective heralding the start of Prohibition and Tennessee delivered the crucial 36th ratification for the final adoption of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The worst and longest economic recession to hit the U.S. would define the end of the decade-The Great Depression. It was within this environment that five coeds envisioned a sorority which would directly affect positive change, chart a course of action for the 1920s and beyond, raise consciousness of their people, encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement, and foster a greater sense of unity among its members. These women believed that sorority elitism and socializing overshadowed the real mission for progressive organizations and failed to address fully the societal mores, ills, prejudices, and poverty affecting humanity in general and the black community in particular. Since its inception, the Eta Alpha Zeta Alumnae Chapter has joined it national headquarters in celebrating its steady climb into the national spotlight with programs designed to demonstrate concern for the human condition, both nationally and internationally.
1922 – SIGMA GAMMA RHO SORORITY, INC., Asonte’ Boyd, Basileus
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (SGRho), one of the four college sororities for African American women, was founded by seven public school teachers at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 12, 1922. SGRho is thus the only Greek-letter organization founded by university graduates rather than undergraduates. It is also the only black Greek-letter sorority founded outside of Howard University. Sorority founders established the first undergraduate chapter in 1929 at Butler University.
Today Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority has more than 90,000 members in 500 alumnae and undergraduate chapters across the United States, in Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Germany, and South Korea. It is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina. The sorority’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life within the community.” Public service, leadership development, and education of youth continue to be the hallmarks of the Mu Delta Sigma Alumnae Chapter’s local programs and activities. SGRho’s programs include a National Education Fund which provides scholarships to male and female students of all racial backgrounds. Its Project Reassurance Program helps care for low-birth weight infants born to teenage mothers. Project Reassurance also provides education about the importance of pre- and post-natal care and child development.