Black History Celebration

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 Haddonfield-Haddon Township  See map

Tickets: $60 per person, contact President Sharon Whitaker, 856-547-0502
Entertainment: Music by the Sonny Keaton Jazz Quartet

The honorees are:
Bryson Armstead is a Haddonfield native whose deep commitment to social justice and extraordinary generosity is exemplified by his 30-year effort to restore and protect Mount Peace Cemetery in Lawnside. The historic burial grounds hold the remains of many heroes, including a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and at least 80 Civil War veterans. It had been abandoned and was overgrown with vegetation when Armstead – a World War II Navy veteran - rallied men from Lawnside to launch a cleanup. Today, the cemetery is listed on both he national and state registers of historic places.

Mr. Armstead holds a bachelor’s in social science from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C., and a master’s from Glassboro State College, now Rowan University. He has served as a Lawnside Borough Councilman and as a member of the Board of Education. He taught elementary school for 35 years, retiring from the Philadelphia School District in 1986. Now he volunteers at Cooper Hospital and has served on health, education and faith-based community boards throughout Camden County.

Verline Still was a member of the Lawnside Scholarship Club in various positions for more than 25 years. She is known around Lawnside as a friend to the sick and shut-in, and a kind lady who brings foil-wrapped cookies and cakes to Grace Temple Baptist Church (where she has been a lifelong member). Mrs. Still is also recognized for her sense of justice. It is what compelled her as a teenager to lead a protest against unsanitary restrooms at a segregated laundry company, and to help found the Lawnside Historical Society with her husband, the late Clarence H. Still, III.

As part of the historical society, Mrs. Still was involved in a decades-old project to restore the former home of Peter Mott, a free man from Lawnside who was an agent of the Underground Railroad that operated in the North to help slaves escape. With her unrelenting commitment and generosity, the Peter Mott House is now a museum recognized nationally and in New Jersey as a historic site. She also volunteers with various local clubs and auxiliaries, including Virtua Health.

Michelle Carter graduated in 1982 as class valedictorian at the culturally diverse Haddon Heights High School. Twelve years later, the Franklin and Marshall College graduate returned to the high school to teach math to a new generation of students that she is also preparing to navigate the challenges of adulthood.

She was the 1982 top scholarship recipient of the Lawnside Scholarship Club and acted as mistress of ceremonies at the 2012 Black History Celebration.

Ms. Carter, who also taught at Camden’s Woodrow Wilson High School where students nominated her to be listed in the 1992 edition of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, is an adviser to the Afro-American Cultural Society and Student Council at Haddon Heights High School. And, as a math educator, she helped develop the Authentic Math Applications course that teaches young people about personal finance. Like Mrs. Still, Ms. Carter grew up in the Grace Temple Baptist Church, and believes a successful life must include service to God.

Dr. Ronn Johnson is the Philadelphia-born and Camden-reared superintendent of the Lawnside Public School District who lives by the motto: “While it takes a village to raise a child, educators have the responsibility of Raising the Village!”

Dr. Johnson’s background reflects a commitment to his own education, and to that of his students. A graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he received a bachelor’s in Business Administration, he went on to earn a master’s in school administration at Rowan University and a doctorate in innovation and leadership at Wilmington University in Delaware.


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