'Good Times' star to speak at African American History Banquet

Staff Writer

The second annual African American History Banquet, promises to be be something very special. Bern Nadette Stanis, best known for her role as Thelma Evans on the 1970s Norman Lear sitcom, Good Times, will be the keynote speaker second annual African American History Banquet.
"Last year, the Honorable Mike Espy, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for 1993 and 1997, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives or the Mississippi Second Congressional District 1987 - 1993, was the keynote speaker," Pastor Orlando Richmond, said. "This year we are proud to have actress and author, Bern Nadette Stanis with us."

During the African American History Banquet, three local difference makers will be honored. The purpose of the banquet is to celebrate African Americans and their contributions to our lives.
"Johnnie Harris, assistant basketball coach for the MSU Lady Bulldogs," Richmond said. "She was named WBCA Assistant Coach of the Year. She is one of our Difference Makers who will be honored."
Richmond said Harris is known for grooming and encouraging young people in collegiate athletics. He believes she is the glue that binds the Lady Bulldogs' basketball program.
"We all admire what Vic Shaffer has done with the program," Richmond said. "But I think a lot of who these young ladies have become is due to Harris' guidance."

Travis Outlaw, a Starkville native who was drafted into the NBA right out of high school, as a first round draft pick in 2003, will be recognized as a Difference Maker.
"He has been very generous to the Starkville community," Richmond said. "He brings NBA stars to host summer camps for area children. He is retired now, but his family are still living in Starkville."

Willene Jefferson, is a West Point native and is well known and loved in the community.
"She has been known for her work in the community for decades," Richmond said. "She is such a caring, selfless individual. Willene is always searching for someone she can help. We want to honor her for her tireless work in the community."
Richmond wants to inspire others and shine a spotlight on those who serve in area communities with no thought of anything in return.

"This is not a fundraiser for us," Richmond said. "We, here at Northside, budget for the banquet. But the ticket prices have not been decided as of yet. But the tickets only off-set the cost. We will announce ticket prices at a later time, closer to the event."

Willie Davis is the program chair, and has worked closely with Richmond to make this a successful event.
"Northside does not do this alone," Davis said. "We have the support of the MSU Women's Basketball community, and the African American Studies.
Also on board is the West Point Growth Alliance, Mayor Robbie Robinson, the Louise Campbell Center for the Arts, Aundrea Self will be the program guide, and we have support from the Old Waverly Golf Club.

Davis said the program wishes to shed a light on the ways we are all alike, not to divide the community even more.
"We want our youth to stand tall," Davis said. "To be more positive. We want to celebrate African American History as everyone's history."