The Truth and Friends Celebrate the Paper’s 20th Anniversary

Jessica Ford Perkins, Larry Sykes, George Hillard, Deborah Barnett, Suzette Cowell, and Tracee Perryman
Fletcher Word and Carla Thomas, The Truth contributor

The Truth Staff

“It’s like a Black family reunion,” gushed one happy guest at this publication’s 20th anniversary celebration on Thursday, October 27, at The Pinnacle in Maumee.

The event brought together about 200 people in the community to help The Truth celebrate its 20th birthday and, more importantly, to honor some individuals within the community who have helped the paper reach such a milestone.

Montrice Terry, of the City Park League, served as emcee for the evening and opened up the ceremony by paying tribute to the honorees, the community and the newspaper.

Dinner was offered in the form of grazing stations and guests dined on salad, carved beef and turkey, a build your own mashed potato station and an ice cream station with choice of toppings.

Tables were decorated with centerpieces from Da’Vee Designs, located in Franklin Park Mall, and from The Truth Art Gallery. The printed programs featured articles and photos from each of The Truth’s 20 years. The room was decorated by blown-up posters of the honorees and cover stories they were featured in along with a variety of other posters from over the years.

During dinner, guests were entertained by Lady K and Intuition who played a range of 60s and 70s r & b hits.

After dinner, the celebration began as honors were bestowed on a number of individuals.

Publisher Fletcher Word opened the celebration by acknowledging that virtually everyone in attendance had been critical to the success of the paper. Many had been part of the news items or features over the years, and a number of contributors or reporters were on hand.

Before the honorees were presented, Word was surprised by several in the audience who honored the paper’s contributions to the community. County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Lucas County Administrator Jessica Ford Perkins recognized The Truth for “excellence in journalism.” Then Dawn Scotland, The Truth’s staffer, organized a recognition for the paper’s publisher, for acknowledging 20 years of service to the community.State Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson presented a proclamation from the Ohio House of Representatives commending The Truth “on twenty years of service.”

Larry Sykes

The evening’s honorees were five individuals who have been of enormous service to the community and one individual who has been an integral part of The Truth’s news presentations for many years.

George Hillard, a Democratic Party behind-the-scenes activist who has been active in getting, having heard of the impending publication, reached out to The Truth staff before the newspaper hit the stands to offer his help in setting up distribution. He not only brought ideas for distribution to the staff but also volunteered his time to actually take the publication around town to introduce it to distribution sites.

Over the year’s Hillard has continued to offer his advice and counsel about such matters.

Deborah Barnett has been a source of advice and counsel on numerous issues to the paper. Barnett, a former banker and elected official, operates her consulting firm now. Over the years, Barnett has been instrumental in working on special events for The Truth – such as a forum on racism – and connecting the paper to a variety of business interests.

Larry Sykes was the very first person the staff of The Truth approached 20 years ago with the plans to start the new publication. Sykes, who has played such a critical role in the Toledo community for decades, was from the start was so very important in offering financial advice, providing connections to the community and finding important business opportunities for the paper over the course of the 20 years.

A former banker, a member of so many critical organizations and boards and an elected official for years, Sykes remains a source of information and assistance.

Suzette Cowell, CEO of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union, has been so important to The Truth over the years both as an adviser about community events and individuals but also as banker and financial advisor. She has been of enormous importance during difficult financial times and has helped put the paper on secure financial standing.

And then there was Jack Ford.

Ford, former mayor and holder of a variety of elected positions, was the second person the staff approached 20 years ago, ironically, during an event in the very room in which the 20th anniversary celebration was held. Ford spread the word, to such people as Hillard, and ensured that the paper was recognized with a Unity Award at the MLK, JR University of Toledo event during the first year of publication.

Perhaps most importantly, Ford joined the staff of the paper in between elected positions, during the paper’s fifth year of operation, greatly heightening the publication’s recognition within the community.

Hillard, Barnett, Sykes and Cowell accepted their plaques with moving speeches about the community and why it has been so important for them to assist in providing accurate, comprehensive information to the Toledo community.

Jessica Ford Perkins accepted on behalf of her late father, noting that the presentation had brought her to tears and admitting how much she still missed her father who passed seven years ago. She noted that her father’s work with the paper and the care he took with that work was of great importance to him

The Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, pastor of Center of Hope Church, was also honored for his contributions over the years as a commentator and interviewer. Word noted that when the paper was first established, a central component was to be interviews and cover stories of individuals and their impact on the community. Perryman has spent his column enhancing that effort.

Perryman was under the weather for the event but his daughter, Tracee Perryman, PhD, CEO of Center of Hope Family Services, accepted in his stead.

The 20th anniversary celebration was the first time the paper and its staff had held such an event but, perhaps, more to come in the future?