WARREN Celebrating black achievement
The event offers gospel music, food, a parade, rides and games.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Highlighting the accomplishments of blacks in the community and promoting unity are the aims of the 18th annual Trumbull African-American Achievers Association Festival.
The event, with a Striving for Unity theme, kicks off at noon Friday in downtown Courthouse Square with a ribbon cutting. It runs through next Sunday.
The late Van Williams started the event out of a concern that the accomplishments and contributions of black people to the community were going unnoticed.
"He wanted to show the accomplishments we have contributed to the community," said the Rev. Irvin Williams, CEO of the organization. "It's a way to work with other ethnic groups to make this a better place to live."
Event organizers believe the goals are being accomplished.
"What he [Van Williams] started to do, we're doing," said Robert L. Davis, board president. "We're certainly looking at it getting bigger and better every year. We want young people to see the positive things that our community does."
Not trying to compete
The Rev. Mr. Williams emphasized that the festival isn't geared at elevating the contributions of blacks above those of other groups and organizers aren't trying to compete with other festivals conducted in the city.
The event features food concessions, arts and crafts, entertainment, African cultural displays, rides and games and a voter registration booth.
A parade, with parade marshals Steve Arnold and David Jenkins, coaches of the at Warren G. Harding High School boys and girls basketball teams, respectively, begins at noon Saturday at Second Baptist Church on Main Street and proceeds north to Courthouse Square, said Gwenn Morgan, parade coordinator.
The parade features the Harding marching band and drill teams, baseball teams and families. Morgan hopes to lengthen the parade route for future festivals.
Next Sunday, dubbed Gospel Sunday at the festival, showcases the musical talents of area groups, churches, soloists and other musicians from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A new feature of this year's festival is a three-on-three basketball tournament. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday and from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Courthouse Square. The contest is open to males and females, and contestants are broken into categories according to age.
Registration forms and a $30 entry fee must be submitted by Friday at New Jerusalem Fellowship, 2555 Palmyra Road, Warren 44481. Call (330) 395-4518 or (330) 898-4352 for more information.
Another annual TAAAA event is induction into the association's Hall of Fame. Each year, seven people and two students are inducted into the hall recognizing their contributions to the community.
Morgan said they try to recognize people who are still living so members get to see the influence they've had. Gospel singer Debbie Austin, who died earlier this month, was inducted into the hall in 2000.
The organization's annual golf outing is set for Aug. 3 at Forest Oaks Golf Course.
Davis said the group is open to suggestions on how to improve the festival, and donations are welcome. The group hopes to move into a larger office to display photographs of Hall of Fame members.
"It would be a place for the youth to come and visit on field trips to see what our cultural heritage has done for the community," he said.