Honoree is a woman of firsts

There are a few sure things I know that take place every January.

First, this publication will publish a listing of several Martin Luther King Jr. Day events.

Second, among the first organizations that will get their information to The Vindicator will be VFW Post 6488 and its Ladies Auxiliary, thanks to the efforts of Herman Adams, longtime post member and a former post commander.

For several years, the post and its auxiliary have hosted the annual King Day luncheon at their headquarters at 2065 Coitsville-Hubbard Road on the city’s far East Side.

This year’s luncheon will be at 1 p.m. Jan. 16.

The format is simple but always on point. Because King was a minister, the post makes sure its luncheon keynote speaker is a preacher. This year, that honor goes to the Rev. David Moncrief, pastor of Triedstone Baptist Church on Jacobs Road.

King, whose birthday was Jan. 15, also was a trailblazer, the face of the national civil-rights movement, and one of our country’s most-eloquent speakers and leaders.

To honor King’s trailblazing efforts, the post also selects a local person who has laid the groundwork for other black people to follow.

Past honorees have included Jay Williams, Youngstown’s first black mayor; Jesse Carter, the city’s first black firefighter; and Sarah Brown-Clark, the city’s first black clerk of courts.

This year’s honoree is Delphine Baldwin-Casey, the detective-sergeant in the Youngs-town Police Department who retired in 2010 after a 31-year career.

Martha Warner was the city’s first black woman hired in the YPD. Delphine, a 1969 Campbell Memorial High School graduate, always made sure to honor Warner by making sure she dedicated herself to protect and to serve the community.

Delphine’s achievements are many, but I’ll just list a few:

She was the first woman to serve as president of the Black Knights Police Association. The mission of the BKPA is to “bring about reform in the Youngstown Police Department in order to prevent police corruption, racial discrimination and brutality.”

She was the first female front-line supervisor in the YPD, and the first woman commanding officer to head a YPD unit — the Crisis Intervention Unit, created to deal with violent crimes committed against women. That unit eventually became the Family Investigation Services Unit, which, in addition to handling sexual assaults, also investigates sexual abuse, domestic violence and crimes committed by children.

She was founder of the Women Law Enforcement Officers of Ohio. The organization was established to bring about equal opportunities for women employed in law enforcement.

She now is a private consultant to schools and agencies. She hosts workshops on domestic violence and sexual-assault.

I’m sure Delphine made some enemies in more than three decades of police work.

That is offset, however, by the countless number of people she has helped during that same period.

According to her biography, Delphine has lived her life by two mottoes: “It is not racist or sexist to want equality,” and “The only time I’m looking down on a sister is when I’m helping one up.”

As I wrote in my column on Delphine in 2010, she had to overcome male chauvinism within the YPD and win over male officers who didn’t want to work with a woman.

She remains an advocate for women seeking careers in law enforcement. Although it’s the 21st century, there still are few women, especially black women, serving in area police and sheriff’s departments.

Delphine has received 24 awards from city, state and community organizations since 1978.

Hundreds turned out to honor her achievements at Archangel Community Center in Campbell in 2010.

Thanks again to Adams, post commander Ronell Carter, Sandra Smith-Graves, 6488 auxiliary president, and others on the post’s MLK committee who selected Delphine for this prestigious honor.

Again, the luncheon begins at 1 p.m. I hope to see you there.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com

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