Topping off Black History month, the city of North Miami honored philanthropists, community partners and NFL stars at a star-spangled night.
On Friday, Feb. 22, North Miami’s Black History Month Committee held its fourth annual Evening of Honors dinner, an initiative started by Councilman Alix Desulme to recognize distinguished people in the city and the county who match the theme set by the committee.
Desulme conceived the event after he was elected in 2015 to serve as District 4 councilman and honorary Black History Month Committee co-chair.
“This event was made to honor trailblazers in our community who make an impact in the community,” he said.
The theme for the 2019’s list of events was “Building Strong Communities,” according to Eunicia Baker, a North Miami spokesperson.
The idea came from the theme of American Library Association, as it visits libraries across the country as part of an advocacy effort, one of which was at the library in North Miami.
“We decided to go off of the ALA’s theme of ‘Libraries = Strong Communities’ when it was announced that the president of the ALA, Loida Garcia-Febo, was coming to visit our library here in North Miami, and we built our Black History Month theme off of that,” said Desulme.
This year, the city honored former Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, former NFL player Elvis Dumervil, philanthropist Tracy Wilson Mourning, NFL player Kenny Stills and Solomon Stinson, a former Miami-Dade County educator and school board member.
“We chose people who make an impact in the community in various categories like philanthropy, education and civic engagement,” said Baker.
Gibson was the first mayor of Miami Gardens, when the city had 82,000 Black residents, when it was formed in 2003, according to 2004 estimates on the city’s website.
Gibson told The Miami Times that she was flattered to be invited to the Evening of Honors, and she brought a special guest: her 7-year-old granddaughter.
“I brought my granddaughter to the dinner, and when I gave my speech I asked her to come up because I wanted her to see people caring about each other and recognizing each other for good work,” said Gibson.
Stinson told The Miami Times that the way North Miami commemorates Black History Month is “momentous,” and that he was honored to have been recognized by the city for his work on the Miami-Dade County school board for many years.
“I worked on the board from 1996 until I retired in 2010,” said Stinson. “Today, I still receive calls for counsel from people in the school system. I think they still think I’m on the board,” said Stinson, with a laugh.
Of the other guests who were honored at the dinner with a trophy and a short time were speak were Mourning, for her work with Honey Shine, her organization which helps young girls in the community through workshops and field trips; Dumervil, for his real estate development that is revitalizing areas of North Miami; and Stills, who has engaged with the community and the police through ride-alongs and other service projects, according to Baker.
The committee has previously honored Miami Times Editor Emeritus Garth C. Reeves Sr. Reeves, a city resident, turned 100 years old Feb. 12.
“We put on this event because the governing body represents the people, and these honorees have touched the people of North Miami in some way. We recognize them for that,” said Desulme.