LORAIN — As a saxophone player set the tone for Friday night’s third annual Jazz Chocolate Fest, inductees into the Lorain County African American Hall of Fame and recipients of the Vision and Views Media Hispanic Leadership Award reflected on their accomplishments.
The inductees to the Hall of Fame included Jean Wrice, Rhoda Lee, Dr. Fleming Mosley, Wilbert Ray Noble, Judge John Howard, Forrest Bullocks, Margaret Christian, Constance Ponder and Phyllis Yarber Hogan.
According to Timothy Jones, president of Vision and Views Media, the people receiving awards Friday have dedicated their lives to the advancement of African Americans and the communities in which they live and work.
Wrice served her community as a mentor and was the first Civil Rights leader in Lorain. She is the Lorain NAACP president.
Lee has been involved with civil rights since the 1960s and is the education chairwoman of the Lorain NAACP. She is also a board member of the Lorain County Community Action Agency.
“I have testified before Congress (regarding) the education of children,” Lee said Friday night. “We have to start energizing our young people to become more involved (beyond) the high school level. We have an excellent community college here in Lorain County.”
Mosley is known for being the first African- American principal in the Lorain City Schools for more than 18 years.
But Mosley is more widely known for being a boxing legend who once shared the ring with Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight champion “Smokin’” Joe Frazier.
Since then, Mosley has dedicated his life to helping others better their own lives.
“He has trained kids in boxing,” Jones said of Mosley.
Noble was the Republican candidate who ran opposite Democrat Holly Brinda for the 2011 Elyria mayoral seat.
Noble is the former chairman of the Elyria Republican Party and was the 2011 recipient of the American Cancer Society Living Angel award.
Howard was the first African-American judge for Elyria. The Elyria Municipal Courthouse now bears his name — John A. Howard.
Bullocks serves as Elyria’s City Council Clerk. His family rose from being sharecroppers to prominent members of Elyria’s civic community.
Christian is an activist in Oberlin where she taught school. She is also a member of the Lorain NAACP.
Ponder has worked with children for more than 20 years. In 1990, she was named recreation coordinator for Oberlin and was later promoted to recreation superintendent. She was also a board member of the Oberlin Cable Co-Op and Oberlin Community Services.
Hogan is the coordinator for Oberlin’s Juneteenth festival and is one of the founding members of the Oberlin African American Genealogy and History Group.
“As my husband says, I am ‘civic-minded,’” Hogan said. “I am committed to my community. I have done a lot of small things with the help of other people because you can’t do anything alone.”
The night also honored Timothy Carrion, president of Coalition on Hispanic/Latino Issues and Progress; Diana Marrero-Pinto, president of Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition; Cel Rivera, Lorain Police Department chief of police; Joel Arredondo, president of Mexican Mutual; and Victor Leandry, president of El Centro.
“The Vision and Views Media Hispanic Leadership Award celebrates visionary leaders doing extraordinary work to strengthen the Hispanic community,” Jones said. “This work may confront societal or civic issues, address health or environmental concerns, or promote arts and humanities.”