Alpha Phi Alpha 30th Annual MLK Scholarship Breakfast

The Men of Alpha Phi Alpha

By Dawn Scotland
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter

The Men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. celebrated their 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. This year’s theme was “Emerging from the Darkness: Reclaiming Our Light.” Six high school seniors were awarded scholarships totaling $13,000.

The local Alpha Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. held its annual scholarship breakfast at the Pinnacle in Maumee, Ohio Saturday morning January 15.

Mistress of Ceremonies Kristian Brown, 13abc News Anchor, presented the welcome to full room and livestream audience.

John C. Jones, chapter president, gives remarks

Brothers and Lorain, OH natives Pablo Oquendo, 18, and Celestino Oquendo, 16, led the morning

with a violin rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’ The multi-instrumentalists attend Central State University and high school in Lorain, OH.

Alpha Elder David Young led the invocation, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz provided remarks and recognition of Partners and Sponsors was given by Alpha Dr. Calvin Burney Jr.

Plated breakfast was served while guest enjoyed a video highlighting ‘Jewel level’ scholarship recipients (representing the highest scholarship award given) and a presentation of Dr. King’s final speech. The video was produced by Creadio. The Toledo opera provided a video selection of “The Whole Word.”

Richard E. Jackson received the 2022 Drum Major for Justice Award. “The Drum Major for Justice Award is the highest award given by the Alpha Xi Lambda chapter each year to a deserving community member,” said Brown. “The chapter receives nominations and selects the recipient based on their commitment to social justice, service to our community and the demonstration of exemplary leadership. This year’s recipient definitely epitomizes that description: Mr. Richard E. Jackson.”

Jackson, a Toledo native, 1969 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha and University of Toledo alumnus, served 38 years in Toledo Public Schools as a student teacher, full time teacher, assistant principal, building principal, school improvement leader and assistant superintendent. Jackson has been married to his wife Yolanda Jackson for almost 50 years.

“I’ve been blessed,” said Jackson, “but I’m equally proud of the group of brothers in all three chapters and what they’ve done over the last 30 years as far as to keep Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy alive.”

MLK Celebration Commitee

Jackson acknowledged his former students: many of whom were in the room now as Alpha men.

“I know that today is an honor for me –and it is a big honor– but more so than anything else, I’m honored to look out among this audience and see all the young folks that I had been involved in and had watched grow up through the years and couldn’t be prouder of you and what you do and continue to do.” Jackson was met with a standing ovation as he ended his remarks.

The keynote speaker for the morning was Alpha brother Jermain Pettis, a Toledo native, former scholarship recipient and now resident of Atlanta, Georgia. He is the senior Vice President of Community Development and Lending for the Georgia Banking Company and founded the Jermain Pettis Charity Golf Classic in 2021.

He highlighted the social ills that are present today and the parallels to Dr. King’s day.

He emphasized the impact of one person being able to make a difference. “Every bit of progress leads to more progress,” said Pettis.

“As you emerge from the darkness… when you see that light reclaim it, “ he said. “Without his [Dr. King’s] genius, without his bravery, without his unwavering commitment, it is likely that we would be in far more darkness than the light.”

The six scholarship recipients were:

Josiah Brown – senior at Perrysburg High School with a cumulative GPA of 3.12. He is the founder and president of the first Afro-American Club at Perrysburg High School and has also earned varsity letters in football and track and field. He plans to major in pre-law and minor in journalism and attend the University of Toledo. Josiah is the son of Dr. Tawiona Brown. He received a $3000 scholarship.

Donovan Eason – senior at Anthony Wayne High School and currently holds a 3.6 GPA. He participates in track and field, Youth Leadership Toledo, YIPPIE, and Jock and Jill of America.     He is also a caddie at the Inverness Club. Donovan plans on attending The Ohio State University. He is the son of Rodney Epsom, Jr. and Sheila Eason. He received a $1500 scholarship.

Lawrence (LJ) Hancock, Jr. – senior at St. John’s Jesuit High School and maintains a 3.2 cumulative GPA. LJ is the current student body president at St. John’s and plays varsity football. He is a member of the St. John’s Afro Club, and was a State Ambassador for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. LJ has been an Ambassador for Books For Buddies and worked as a caddy at the Inverness Club. He plans to attend Miami University and major in marketing. LJ is the son of Karyn McConnell and Lawrence Hancock, Sr. He received a $2000 scholarship.

Nicholas Pineda – senior at Perrysburg High School where he holds a 4.017 GPA. He is a member of the National Honor Society end is an Eagle Scout. Nicholas has also volunteered with Zion Lutheran church by providing food to the homeless in downtown Toledo. He plans to attend The University of Cincinnati and major in secondary education. Nicholas is the son of Gerald and Jennifer Pineda. He received a $3000 scholarship.

Caleb Prater – senior at Bowling Green High School where he maintains a 3.6 GPA. There, he is a member of the varsity basketball team. He is also a member of Glass City Church of Christ. Caleb participates in the Lan Leadership Institute through the University of Toledo and volunteers through La Posada homeless shelter. He plans to attend Ohio University and major in psychology. Caleb is the son of Lutricia Prater and Latrelle Prater. He received a $1500 scholarship.

Joshua Smith-  senior at E.L. Bowsher High School and has a GPA of 3.5. He is a member of the varsity basketball, track and field, and cross country teams. Joshua is also a member of the Bowsher choir and a member of the Principal’s List. He is involved with the University of Toledo’s Upward Bound Program and h

as spent time volunteering at Hospice of Northwest Ohio. He is still undecided at this time on a college or university, but plans to major in psychology. Joshua is the son of Timothy Smith and Tamara Smith. He received a $2000 scholarship.

Rev. John C. Jones, leader of HOPE Toledo, and president of the Alpha Xi Lambda chapter thanked sponsors, speakers, the event committee and 240 in person guests. The event is available on livestream and was filmed by Creadio. Young returned to the podium to give the benediction.

Alpha Xi Lambda has raised over $30,000 for scholarships this year. In order to contribute, visit their website,  or support via cashapp: $axlscholarship.