Recognizing human rights

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 26, 2007

MURFREESBORO – The tradition spans nearly one-quarter of a century.

In front of a near-capacity crowd here Saturday night at the Nebo Family Life Center, the Xi Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hosted its 24th annual Human Rights Banquet. There, local chapter officials were praised by the evening’s featured speaker, United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), for their efforts with local youth.

“You are to be commended for working with the young people of your local communities,” said Butterfield who represents 23 eastern North Carolina counties. “I thank you for what you have done and what you are doing for these young people.”

The Xi Rho Omega Chapter members set aside a portion of the banquet to recognize high school students from Bertie and Hertford counties that participated in the sorority-sponsored Debutante Ball back in December. Each young lady, along with their escort, was presented with a certificate of participation. During the banquet’s meal hour, those young people visited each table and shared their plans for the future.

“These young people look so bright and so full of energy,” Rep. Butterfield noted. “Again, I thank you for working and motivating them to be prepared to meet a great big world. I urge you to continue to guide them to do great things that will prepare them for their place in the world.”

Xi Rho Omega Chapter President Sonya Williams opened the event with greetings from the local sorority.

“We want to thank those who have supported us over the past 24 years,” Williams said. “You continue to make it possible for us to sponsor the scholarships we award to very deserving students.”

While the local chapter members can take pride in their efforts over a quarter century, Williams promised that the best was yet to come.

Chapter member Erica Perry Green touched briefly upon the history of the organization and the founding of the Human Rights Banquet before focusing her attention on the young people of the Roanoke-Chowan area.

“We take great pleasure in honoring students who reach high to attain academic and extracurricular achievements,” Green said.

The banquet also serves as an opportunity for the local chapter to present the Clementine S. Creecy Human Rights Award. That undertaking began in 2003 in memory of Creecy, a beloved member of the sorority who will long be remembered as a champion and advocate for civil and human rights.

Hertford County Cooperative Extension Director Deborah J. Howard is the 2007 recipient. Howard, who has led the department since 1988, was praised for improving the quality of life for the citizens of Hertford County.

Howard oversees an agency that is responsible for major efforts in the areas of agriculture, horticulture, community/rural development, 4-H and youth, nutrition/wellness and family issues.

“With her magnetic personality and commitment to help improve the quality of life for others, Deborah Howard demonstrates the true meaning of being a real humanitarian. She has dedicated her life to serving others and giving back to her community,” were the words contained in a portion of her biography.

Linda Pierce presented the prestigious award to Howard.

Also taking part in Saturday night’s banquet were Krista Jernigan, the Master of Ceremonies; Linda Perry, who performed the Debutante recognition; and Vernice Howard, who introduced Congressman Butterfield. Rev. Ronald Taylor, pastor of Aulander Fire Baptist Church, provided the invocation and closing prayer while Kenya Morris entertained the audience with two songs.