The African American Hall of Fame Museum held the 31st Annual Red, Black and Green Ball on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Twenty-one students from Peoria School District #150, Quest Charter Academy and Bloomington/Normal were awarded African American Hall of Fame Museum Scholarships from various sponsors.
Founded in 1987, the African American Hall of Fame Museum’s (AAHFM) mission is to educate through preserving and promoting art, history and artifacts that highlight African American achievements in our community and beyond. Another focus of the mission is to provide scholarships for graduating outstanding African American students from Peoria School District #150, Quest Charter Academy and Bloomington/Normal Schools.
Scholarship applications are provided to school counselors during the first semester of the senior year and are required to be returned to the coordinator by the first week in January of the following year. The coordinator for Peoria area schools is Ronda Guyton and the coordinator for Bloomington/Normal is Bobby Gray.
Ronda Guyton, also the keynote speaker for the evening, shared the following gems with the students and audience:
“The goal is to give you additional tools for your treasure chest of success. And then to go out and make the world a better place.
Overcoming obstacles to achieve success; that is to succeed, defeat, and overpower by eliminating negative thinking, negative people that may hinder your purpose or stifle your dreams. I thought about the word obstacles and I immediately thought about the American Dream. What does that look like for so many like me? I am going to drop a few gems to take with you on your journey.
The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. It is also said that the American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk taking and hard work, not by chance.
The American Dream can also be referred to as a commitment to the goal of material success, to be pursued by everyone in society, under conditions of open, individual competition.
Many will tell you as a black person living in poverty and systematic racism that you will not achieve the American Dream. Many will tell you that it is out of reach. Many will deter your dream to fit their comfort level. Do not allow anyone to write your story or tell your truth.
I believe I have an unique authority to speak about overcoming obstacles, leadership, community service and education.
- Build your resume so you don’t need one – be a person of your word, follow through, and have exceptional work ethic. Your resume should be so that asking for your resume is just a formality
- Never accept less than you deserve – Basically love yourself unconditionally, know your worth and demand that people value your voice, time and gifts/talents
- Balance multiple hustles – do not limit yourself, the universe is yours. I have a full-time job, I own a travel company, I founded a nonprofit, I sit on several boards and I volunteer with several organizations, you get what I am saying! Live your best life
- Leverage your brand – (Be yourself) you are your brand, be mindful of how your conduct your brand. What you post on social media, how you treat others and whom you surround yourself with
- It is ok to collaborate with others. You cannot take this journey alone
- Leadership is a lifestyle not a position
- You may never know the level of community service and its effect on others. Give generously; that does not always mean monetary.
- Gem moment- do not be afraid of your destiny. 18 months ago, I knocked on the door of Sheriff Asbell and said I want to be your Superintendent. He said ok we will talk. About two weeks passed and we had not talked. I debated 20 minutes about asking again. Then I knocked on his door again. I said I want to be your superintendent. He looked up and said, “Oh I didn’t know you were really interested.” Yep I am… Had I not known my worth or had given into doubt. I would not be your first African American woman Undersheriff.
I want you to be intentional about engagement and receive everything that is offered at your respective universities, to be mentors, community advocates, DONORS to support the next generation of success stories. I am the American Dream, from poverty and the projects to education, employment and advocacy. When I think of a cap and gown I think of future leadership, students adjust your cap and tassel, put on your robe of success and share your story. Inductees continue to reach back and give back. To all of you be confident that the good works you will do will inspire, encourage and grow the next generation of community leaders.
In closing George Washington Carver said, “that no individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind a distinct and legitimate reason for having passed through it”.
Scholars from Peoria School District #150 or Quest Charter Academy that received African American Hall of Fame Museum scholarships are as follows:
Cameron E. Bell is a senior at Richwoods High School. He is the son of Robbye and Christa Spates-Bell. He is ranked #3 in his class and has been accepted at St. Xavier University Chicago. He is considering biological sciences as a major with further interest in stem cell research.
Scholarship Sponsor – Doug & Diane Oberhelman
Cory T. Hightower is a senior at Richwoods High School. He is the son of Cary and Alycia Hightower. He is the president of (TSTM) Tomorrow’s Scientists, Technicians and Managers at the Peoria Tri-County Urban League. Cory has been accepted at North Carolina A & T in Greensboro, North Carolina and plans to major in computer science. Scholarship Sponsor – Doug & Diane Oberhelman
Olivia M. Streeter is a senior at Peoria High School. She is the daughter of Debra Streeter. Olivia is ranked #1 in her class and a member of District #150 Superintendent’s Roundtable. She plans to attend Bradley University and major in Journalism/Communication. Scholarship Sponsor – Walter F. Jacob Foundation
Corena N. Adams is a senior at Peoria High School. She is the daughter of Linda Foster and Jeana Wilkinson. Corena is the PHS senior class president and a competitive athlete. She played softball, volleyball and tennis. She has been admitted to Saint Xavier University Chicago and plans to major in health sciences and then pursue a doctorate in Physical Therapy. Scholarship Sponsor – Ameren
Lynette A. Shaw is a senior at Richwoods High School. She is the daughter of Arnitria Shaw. She was selected to participate in the highly competitive summer CREST Program at Bradley University. She has been accepted to Western Illinois University and plans to major in Behavioral Psychology.
Scholarship Sponsor – Jamere Jackson
Parker A. Johnson is a senior at Richwoods High School. She is the daughter of Willie and Annette Coleman. Parker has been the captain of the Richwoods speech team for four years. She has been admitted to Bradley University and plans to major in Political Science.
Scholarship Sponsor – Concerned African American Retirees (CAAR)
Ty’Lhor J. Chaney is a senior at Peoria Quest Charter Academy. She is the daughter of Dayletta R. Chaney and Mallory Castro. Ty’Lhor is a member of the National Honor Society, the Principal’s Advisory Committee and the Quest Dance Team. She has been admitted to DePaul University and plans to major in Criminal Justice. Scholarship Sponsor – Ameren
Addison J. Bolden is a senior at Richwoods High School. She is the daughter of District Elder Henry and Marcia Bolden. Addison was selected as a participant in the City of Peoria’s Mayor’s Youth Program, Superintendent’s Round table, and is a Cheer Captain at Richwoods. She has been admitted to Eureka College and plans to major in dentistry. Scholarship Sponsor – Divine Creations
Jadia M. Gordon is a senior at Peoria High School. She is the daughter of Tiya Warren. She is involved with the Preparatory School of the Arts and the Pride Team and serves as captain of the Dance Team at Peoria High. Jadia has been accepted at Northern Illinois University and plans to major in criminal justice. Scholarship Sponsor – Sheriff Brian Asbell
Andrew J. Conton is a senior at Peoria High School. He is the son of Sonya Conton. He is a member of the PHS Band leadership team. Andrew performed at Bradley Honor Band Festivals and he has been recognized as a Peoria Jazz All Star. Andrew has been accepted at Benedict College and plans to major in music. Scholarship Sponsor – Jerome and Adhonna Guilford, Jr.
Alexis S. Randle is a senior at Manual Academy. She is the daughter of Jane Kresl.
She is the Vice President of Educators Rising Group and volunteers as an early childhood educator for the Head Start Program at Manual. She has been accepted to Illinois Central College and plans to major in Education and follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a teacher.
Scholarship Sponsor – Advanced Medical Transport
Jala L. Gray is a senior at Peoria Quest Charter Academy. She is the daughter of James & Stacy Gray. Jala is a member of the National Honor Society and has a perfect attendance record. She was selected to participate in the Bradley University CREST Program. She has been accepted at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in Columbia, Missouri. Scholarship Sponsor – Bill and Susan Morton
Aniya J. Bailey is a senior at Peoria Quest Charter Academy. She is the daughter of Gaynette Murdock and Glen Bailey. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the honor roll all 4 years of high school. She is a member of the Key Club and participated in the Bradley CREST research internship program. She has been accepted to Bradley University and plans to major in Health Science/Nursing. Scholarship Sponsor – Lexus of Peoria
Scholars from Bloomington / Normal that received African American Hall of Fame Museum Scholarships are as follows:
Boston D. Cooper is a senior at University High School. He is the son of Boston and Janice Cooper. Boston is the percussion section leader in the University High Marching Band. He played on the baseball team as pitcher, first baseman and third baseman. He also performed in (RS) Radio Speaking, dramatic duet acting, and poetry reading. He plans to attend Xavier University of Louisiana and major in Biochemistry.
Scholarship Sponsor: Willie G. Brown
David L. Calahan is a senior at Bloomington High School. He is the son of Marlon and Stephanie Calahan. He is the President of BHS National Honor Society and the Captain of BHS Mock Trial Team. In 2018 David was selected as Illinois State Scholar. He plans to attend the University of Illinois and major in Business & Pre-Law.
Scholarship Sponsor: Willie G. Brown
Mariama L. Mwilambwe is a senior at Normal Community High School. She is the daughter of Mboka and Stacey Mwilambwe. Mariama is a board member of Not in Our School (an anti-discrimination group), the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Madrigal Singer. She plans to attend the University of Illinois and major in Political Science and Finance.
Scholarship Sponsor: Dale and Laura Avery
Jade L. Fung is a senior at University High School. She is the daughter of Franklyn and Collette Fung. Jade is a member of the National Honor Society, Rotary Interact and Vice-President of the Black Student Union. She is the junior swim coach, and co-captain of the Varsity Swim Team. Jade plans to attend Villanova University and major in Business. Scholarship Sponsor: John and Linda Scott
Cameron J. Lewis is a senior at Normal Community West High School. He is the son of David and Cassandra Lewis. Cameron is a scholar athlete and has been recruited to play baseball at Chicago State University. He plans to attend Chicago State University and major in Physical Therapy.
Scholarship Sponsor: John and Linda Scott
Shira J. Archie is a senior at Normal West High School. She is the daughter of George and Betty Archie. Shira is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Math Honor Society. She is a member of the Tennis team, Key Club, Fit Club and the Soccer Team. She has been accepted to the University of Illinois and plans to major in Biology. Scholarship Sponsor: John and Linda Scott
JaNyah K. Creer is a senior at Normal Community West High School. She is the daughter of Jerry and Desiree Duncan-Creer. JaNyah is a member of Mu Alpha Theta Honor Society, Honors English Society, and is an Illinois State Scholar. She plans to attend the University of Iowa and major in Biology.
Scholarship Sponsor: Georgette Orr
Sumayyah H. Muhammad is a senior at Normal Community High School. She is the daughter of Lorraine Muhammad. Sumayyah is president of the Bloomington/Normal Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., on the honor roll, winner of the Illinois Wesleyan Minority Academic Achievement Award, and a summer volunteer at OSF St. Joseph. She plans to attend Ball State University and major in Social Work.
Scholarship Sponsor: Divine Creations
The board members of the African American Hall of Fame Museum are extremely proud of all the scholars. The refrain that I’ve used over the years working with the brightest and the best students is: “Nothing supersedes academic excellence; it serves as the corner stone to secure success. There are five components to maintain your focus and achieve success: faith is the foundation, establishing a vision is essential, gaining knowledge is key, practicing the skills to perform is a part of the formula, and working to meet your expectations will determine the outcome.” Whitney Young maintains “It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Rosemary McCullough, President, African American Hall of Fame Museum
Board of Directors: Barry Anderson, Camille Coates, Bobby Gray, Ronda Guyton, Eric Heard, Rev. Howard Johnson, Georgette Orr, Melisande Peterson, Dr. Marwin Spiller, Jacqueline Watkins, William Watkins, Jr. (Founder), Chris WeaverEmeritus members: Pearly Bonds & Pearl Taylor