ACT-SO represents at J. Whyatt Mondesire Way street name change ceremony
PHOTO ABOVE: Christian Hankerson, former ACT-SO keyboardist.
By Veronica ‘Ms V’ Norris
Despite the rain forecast for late Saturday afternoon, the sun continued to shine on a long-awaited day – Saturday, October 16, 2021 – when part of Germantown Avenue was renamed J. Whyatt Mondesire Way in honor of Philadelphia Sunday. SUN editor and former president of the Philadelphia NAACP, ensuring its legacy lives on.
During Mondesire’s many years as president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, he loved the NAACP ACT-SO (Afro-Academic Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics (of the mind), so it was appropriate to have two ACT-SO alumni to pay tribute to him during the ceremony.
Mondesire believed that when you are part of the ACT-SO program, success follows because the foundation has been laid. He was the biggest promoter of the program, having many ACT-SO youth perform at the annual NAACP Freedom Gala each year.
Reverend Dr. Alyn E. Waller of the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church led the crowd in a dynamic and much needed prayer, followed by instrumental keyboard interpretation by ACT-SO alumnus Christian Hankerson of the hymn national black, “Lift Every Voice”.
Hankerson, 20, is currently a junior at Eastern University majoring in music education. He has been playing for over 10 years. Hankerson also plays drums, accordion and many other instruments with the Philadelphia Mummers Avalon String Band. In addition, he placed locally in Philly ACT-SO Gold in the Instrumental / Classical and Contemporary categories, which gave him the wonderful opportunity to go to San Antonio, Texas for the national competition; all expenses were paid for by the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP and the ACT-SO committee of the NAACP Philly through fundraising and donations.
Jhayda Washington, another ACT-SO alumnus at the event, sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. Washington is a gifted 22-year-old girl raised by her father and grandmother in the Logan community. His talents include singing, dancing and acting. During her high school years, she competed for three years locally in the NAACP Philly ACT-SO competition receiving local gold in the Contemporary and Classical Vocal categories.
In June 2021, Washington graduated with a BA in Communication from Clarion University with a concentration in Digital Media. She did her duty as Miss Clarion University in 2017. As Jerry’s son Joseph Mondesire stood up and spoke so passionately, pouring out sincere love for his family and father, he was showing a deep sense of pride.
Words cannot describe the oneness experienced by people across the city of Philadelphia – some even from North Carolina – for the occasion.
Many notable officials, colleagues, friends and family were on hand, such as close friends, Loraine Ballard Morrill, director of media and community affairs at iHeart, who acted as the event’s MC, the member of the council Helen Gym (D-At-Large) and Sheriff Rochelle Bilal. , as well as other media professionals Elmer Smith, Joe Blake, West Side Weekly editor Tyree Johnson, City of Philadelphia Tribune editor Sharyn Flanagan and presenter Thera Martin. many members of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP were in attendance, including outgoing president Min. Rodney Muhammad and his wife Sharon. Several current and former SUN reporters and staff were also on hand, including current SUN COO Leah Fletcher.
We can only thank Madam President Catherine Hicks – the second woman of color to serve as president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP – who explained how deeply we continue to miss Jerry and his legacy as she knew him. The audience applauded as Hicks pledged the best leadership she could provide, along with her leaders and the NAACP committees, to the community.
The words written by Bishop J. Louis Felton, senior pastor of the Church of God in Christ Mount Airy and 1st vice president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP were shared with the public and very well received.
The planned participants in the program spoke briefly, but with the conviction of their love and respect for Mondesire.
City Councilor Cindy Bass briefly thanked a few people who had covered Mondesire in her lifetime, such as the late E. Steven Collins, radio host and activist, and the late photographer Robert Mendelsohn.
As the ceremony drew to a close and everyone waited, the City of Philadelphia City Council quote was read by council member Cindy Bass. Then the balloons were released and released a flood of emotions into the crowd as the balloons continued to blend into the beautiful sky.
Jerome Whyatt Mondesire will be remembered as a great mentor, a great father and a great leader. As he put it in his own words about the NAACP’s mission to support the vote in 2009, âWhile we, the NAACP, do not support candidates, we want to assure our supporters and friends that our branch – one of the largest in the country – continue to focus on the issues and concerns essential to select leaders capable of meeting contemporary challenges. ”
How appropriate as our next election approaches on November 2. PLEASE VOTE!