By Anita Madison, NAACP Toledo Branch
Special to The Truth
In recognition of Black History Month, the Toledo Branch NAACP recognized six individuals for their accomplishments and dedication to the community, specifically, for their commitment and service as past presidents of the Toledo Branch NAACP.
Guests gathered in the Mott Branch Library on Dorr St. to witness this historic event which began with the history of the NAACP being formed in 1909 as a result of lynching in Springfield, Illinois. The Toledo Branch is the third oldest branch being formed in 1915.
As honorees were called upon to receive their recognition plaque, each had a different focus on their perspective presidencies, but there was a common theme of pride in being recognized by “their own.”
Current President Willie Perryman, Jr., D.Min, recognized each honoree from the earliest serving past president, Bishop Robert Culp, to the most recent past president, Ray Wood. Serving in between those two were Rev. Le Roy Williams, Judge C. Allen McConnell, Theresa M. Gabriel and WilliAnn Moore.
The seven presidents – six past and one current – are part of an historic landscape that began with the chapter’s first president, Benjamin Fisher, who served from 1915 to 1921. Some of the luminaries who led the local chapter over the past 106 years include Albertus Brown (1922-23); Robert Franklin, Jr. Esq (1952-53); J. Frank Troy (1960-65); Samantha Adams, PhD, (1970-72) and Floyd Rose (1972), among others.
Bishop Culp was called to be the senior pastor of First Church of God in 1961 and, under his leadership, First Church has thrived and reached the community through several ministries including, among others, the Church’s Christian School, the FACTS and FORWARD program for substance abuse and the Four Corners Project serving youth and children
Often referred to as “Toledo’s Bishop.” Bishop Culp has served the Toledo community in numerous capacities including: president of Covenant Community Development Corporation; founder and board chairman – Toledo Academy Charter School; founder and board member of Family House homeless shelter; founder of Sparrow’s Nest (operated by the Cherry Street Mission) and member of the founding team of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union
He is currently a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Court Appointed Special Advocates and Citizen Review Board, Lucas County Fatherhood Committee, Hope for Toledo Board and is the chairman of the Toledo Community Coalition.
Rev. Williams served as president of the Toledo Branch NAACP (1985-1990) & 1ST Vice Pres., Ohio conference of branches of the NAACP (1990-1991) and also Board President of the Lucas County Children Services Broad of Directors for six years and many other community boards and commissions. Rev. Williams is the currently serving as the 1st vice president, Interdenominational Alliance of Toledo & Vicinity.
Rev. Williams is the founder and senior pastor of the Search-lite Community Church, Maumee, OH. He previously served in the capacity of associate pastor of the Southern Missionary Baptist Church, Toledo.
A former assistant Lucas County prosecutor who afterwards had a long-time private practice, Judge McConnell has served on many boards during his career including president of the Toledo Legal Aid Society, Trustee of the University of Toledo Foundation, United Way Trustee, Mid-American Bank (Westgate Branch Board member), Toledo Greater Urban League, Pro-Medica Board of Toledo and Flower Hospital Children’s Foundation, Frederick Douglas Community Center and the Toledo Symphony Board..
Judge McConnell served as chairman of the Toledo Regional Workmen’s Compensation Board from 1986-1988. In 1995 he was appointed to Toledo City Council and was elected to Council during the same year. On City Council he served as president pro-tem and chairman of the Finance Committee.
He was elected judge of the Toledo Housing and Environmental Court in 1999 and implemented many programs that have enabled homeowners to bring their properties into compliance with the Housing and Health Codes in the City of Toledo.
Theresa M. Gabriel’s vocation has been a lifetime of service not just with the City of Toledo but also as a volunteer both locally and nationally.
Theresa M. Gabriel has over 20 years of business experience and over 30 years of experience working with organized labor CBTU, AFSCME Local 7, and AFSCME 2058. She has nearly 60 years of experience working with community service organizations on local, state, regional, and national levels. In addition, Gabriel has over 45 years of public sector experience which included positions with the City of Toledo as: Commissioner – Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor; Director – Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry; Clerk of Courts – Toledo Municipal Court; Director – Department of Human Resources; Assistant Chief of Staff / Office of the Mayor.
She has also served on City Council – elected as an At-Large member in 2013 – until she resigned in 2017 to join the Board of Elections.
WilliAnn Moore served 10 years as president of Toledo Local 3204 NAACP; 3rd VP. 10 years and on the Executive Committee for 28 years. She has been the Ohio NAACP State Education Chair and on the Ohio State Conference Executive Committee for 28 years. She has been the State Conference Assistant Treasurer for five years.
Moore was awarded the NAACP 99th Convention Benjamin L Hooks Keeper of the Flame Award. Mrs. Moore co-chaired the UT’s President’s Committee for Active Recruitment and Retention of African American Medical Students for 20 years.
She was the first female Housing Developer in Toledo and established the WilliAnn Moore Foundation at UTMCO. She helped establish ONYX Community Development Corp and headed Toledo Homes and Imani Circle LLC., bringing over $20 million into a 2.5 mile radius in the central city.
Ray Wood was a longtime UAW member and leader. He rose through the leadership ranks until he succeeded Local 14 President Oscar Bunch upon his retirement in December 2006. Ray served as president of UAW Local 14 for over 10 years until his retirement in 2017.
In 2013 Wood was elected president of the Toledo Branch NAACP. Prior to the presidency, he served as first vice president for four years
Wood has always been a soldier for labor and the same holds true in his spiritual life. He serves as a deacon at United Vision Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Perry Harris III, where he is an avid teacher of the Gospel!
He serves on numerous boards in the community including, Toledo Community Coalition, Black and Brown Unity Coalition, IMA, Toledo Urban Federal Credit, just to name a few.
The NAACP is known for its rich history not just during the month of February but year around. According to Rev. Perryman, “during Black History, we often think of individuals like Thurgood Marshall and Fanny Lou Hamer, while their contributions were great, we have members of our community right here in Toledo whose contributions have been equally great.”
For more information contact President Willie Perryman, DMin, at 419-450-790