BTW: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
BTW: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
By Derek Joy
Booker T. Washington High School Tornadoes Alumni Association took a creative turn in its Black History Month celebration.
The Orange, Black and White Tea shifted its focus from honoring the “Unsung Heroes,” which it has done for the past several years. Some 39 Tornadoes were so honored in the programs held from 2011 to 2013.
This year the focus was on the theme, “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree”. The offspring of eight Washingtonians were so honored on a Black History Month program with WPLG Local 10 Co Anchor Calvin Hughes, an award winning journalist, was master of ceremony.
“I thought about it being Black History Month. We had been doing the same thing over and over. So, I thought, this is history here. We have far reaching tentacles,” said Cecilia Lawrence Hunter, program chairperson, who graduated from Booker T. in 1966.
The idea of the far reaching tentacles of the impacts of Booker T. was confirmed by the accomplishments of the eight honorees, some of whom made the marks in cities other than Miami. “This was Cecilia’s brainchild,” said Co-Chair-person Paulette M. Martin. “She’s the creative force behind this program.”
Desirae D. Allen, the daughter of 1965 graduate Elestine M. Allen, is a noted artist and fashion designer who enjoyed success in New York, as well as Europe, before returning home.
Yolanda Cash Jackson, a successful lawyer and lobbyist, is the daughter of James and Ida Storr Cash, who graduated in 1949 and 1947, respectively. Charles Kwanza Morton, the son of 1955 graduate Agnes Morton, is a nationally recognized counselor and probation officer in San Francisco, Calif.
Lisa B. Lofton, the daughter of 1955 graduate Barbara Bur-rows, is a breast cancer survivor who does active breast cancer awareness charity work. She is also a minister and is pursuing a doctoral degree in divinity.
Donald Hylor, Jr., the son of Doris and Donald Hylor, Sr., who graduated in the classes of 1951 and 1947, respectively, is a musician, music teacher and co-founder of the Miami Heat Street Band.
Willie and Patricia Warren, who graduated in 1965 and 67, respectively, produced Ebony Warren Walton, an acclaimed model and winner of the Miss Black Washington, D.C., Miss Black Florida and Miss Black USA Beauty Pageants.
Lanette R. Jones, the daughter of 1963 graduate Laura Jones, is an accountant and managing partner of an ac-counting firm. She is also the president of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association.
Attorney John R. Marks III, the son of John R. Marks, Jr., a graduate of the class of 1935, in 2007 became the first Black American Mayor of Tallahassee, Fla. He is currently serving his third term. Marks also served on and chaired the Florida Public Service Commission.
“Building Booker T. presented some challenges,” stated Agnes Morton, in presenting the historical overview of the school, which became the first Black American high school and the second – Miami High was the first – high school in Miami Dade County when it opened in 1927.
“The school site was bombed twice during construction and the Hurricane of 1926 delayed its opening. The first class graduated in 1928, the last class graduated in 1967 when the school system began integration. It reopened in 1999 and graduated its first class in 2002.”
The honorees and the historical overview prompted Hughes, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., to say, “Now I know why you have such a strong alumni. You guys went through hell and back.”
Roberta C. Daniels, the BTW Alumni Association president had a resonating message for the honorees.
“Your parents were alumnae. That is an honor. You are an apple. And that exemplifies excellence. So, we are here to reflect on the past, cherish the moment and focus on the future,” said Daniels, a 1963 graduate.
Each of the honorees, while offspring of BTW alumni, graduated from different high schools, which further exemplified the far reaching impacts of BTW.
Enhancing the program was the performance of the BTW Jazz Band under the direction of Ahmad Newbold, a dazzling modern dance by twins Signisha and Quenisha Moffett, a solo by Ronald “Lank” Maycock and two inspirational songs by 1964 graduate Dr. Mary Hylor.
“One of the things we’re proud of at Booker T. is we had an 80 percent graduation rate. That’s the highest in all of Miami Dade County,” said BTW Principal William Aristide, who saw his school earn an “A” grade from the Florida State Department of Education.