Some of the 71 recipients of the of the Unity Scholarships.

Families and supporters of the scholarship recipients and representatives of the presenting organizations packed Springfield Baptist Church on June 28 for the annual Unity Community Scholarship Awards and reception. Seventy-one students who are either entering college in the fall or continuing their education received scholarships.

Mistress of Caeremonies Dr. Dorothy Williams, who retired from Family Focus Our Place just the day before, said the goal of education is “to leave the community better than it was.”

Keynote speaker Ahmadou Drame, Community, the External Affairs Coordinator at Evanston Township High School, commended those scholars who had just graduated from high school and told them there are three things they should remember once they get to college: “Own your decision; always remember why you made the decision to go to college. …[Second] Take the most challenging  courses. If you struggled with math, take a math class or two. Chances are you’ll need those skills.” Third, he said, “Find a way to be of service to your community.”

Mr. Drame continued, “Our community suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, heart disease, diabetes, depression, unemployment, dilapidated housing and more.” He mentioned the tragedies of black people killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, Cleveland and other places and the recent shootings in Charleston and fires in black churches.

Mr. Drame told the scholars the black community needs their leadership and commitment “Our community needs faith and fulfillment by swift and appropriate action. …You will have to be the next generation of businesspersons, entrepreneurs, journeymen, doctors and lawyers.”

Actor Harry Lennix, Northwestern University alum presenting scholarships on behalf of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, told the scholars, “Perseverance is the cornerstone of opportunity.”

The scholarship recipients are Deborah Adeoye, Taylor Avery, Ernesto Avila, Jania Banks, Morgan Bates, Xavier Black, Adrianna Carter, Brandon Carter, Erika Carter, Ryan Christie, Jackie Colquitt, Jessica Cooper, Haben Embaue, Lauren English, Nkosi Evans, Justin Farrow, Navie Fields,  Alexis Gill, Elliott Grant, Sakari Greenwell, Andrea Guy, Kaela Hadaway, Bailey Hartley, Alexia Harvey, Jodi Henderson, Chance Henley, Dante Henley, Brandon Hilliard, Jordyn Holman, Christian Horn, Alexander Horton, Imari Huff, Derek Hunter, Joshua Irving, Matthew Izenstark, Naomi Jones, Trinton Jones, Stephanee Kincade, Cedric Logan, Kayla Long, James Marshall-Davis, Alante Massie, Michael Matthew, Maia Moore, Luke Moy, Spenser Moy, Reginal Murphy, Camille Murray, Kyle Murray, Andrew Nummy, Babalola Olasumbo, Belinda Person, Charlyn Pitts, Tyra Poindexter, Lincy Pompilus, Nikko Ross, Raolat Salawu, Myles Spaulding, Carlos Taylor, Thulani Thomas, Ashley Vesotsky, Andre Wallace, Christian Washington, Malcolm Weaver, Charity Williams, David Williams, Sarah Williams, Mark Wilson, Jovaun Woolford, Tatyana Young and Trevor Zemtseff.

The organizations that gave the scholarships are the Chessmen of the North Shore, COE Moms/COE Pops, the Delta Foundation, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – Evanston North Shore Alumnae Chapter, Distinctive Ladies of the North Shore, Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Evanston Bowling Senate, Ivy Pearl Foundation (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority), Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, the Links, Inc. – North Shore Illinois Chapter, NAACP – Evanston/North Shore, Three Sisters Scholarship Foundation

Other scholarships include the Ione S. Brown Memorial Scholarship, the John Harmon Memorial Scholarship, the Hill-Small Memorial Scholarship, the Horace and Dorothy Johnson Memorial Scholarship, Harold Bell Scholarship (Mt. Zion), Oliver A. Ruff Mentoring and Educational Scholarship and the Weissbourd-Holmes Community Service Scholarship.

In a separate ceremony, Jonathan Martinez received a scholarship from the Forrest E. Powell Foundation at the Foundation’s annual Juneteenth celebration.