Human Relations Commission hosts 9th Annual Harold White Sr. Memorial Breakfast

(l): The 9th Annual Harold White Sr. Memorial Breakfast was held Aug. 13. Pictured (l-r): Rev. Kerry Snyder, First Congregational UCC; Rev. John Clemons, Lane Memorial CME Church; Assistant City Manager Jonathan Greene; HRC Commission Chair Barb Shelton; JATA Community Relations Manager Simon Foster; award winners Harold (Jock) White Jr. and Delia Johnson; and John Hawthorne and Val C. Toops, both from the Human Relations Commission. - Photo by Mary Steinmetz

(r): Ed Peterson was keynote speaker at the event. - Photo by Mary Steinmetz

The City of Jackson Human Relations Commission hosted the 9th Annual Harold White Sr. Memorial Breakfast on Aug. 13, at the First Congregational Church UCC in Jackson.

John Hawthorne from the HRC gave the welcoming and closing remarks, and Rev. Kerry Snyder gave the Invocation.

Val C. Toops from the HRC presented the nominees and award winners, and introduced keynote speaker Ed Peterson, a local educator, volunteer and community leader. Peterson was a member of the HRC with Harold White Sr., and was on the Commission when the Harold White breakfast was initiated. Peterson worked with White on the last project White advocated, extending civil rights protection to LGBT persons.

Peterson served on the HRC for more than a decade, and was active on the Martin Luther King Breakfast Committee.

He came to Jackson after teaching in Flint, to be principal at T.A. Wilson Elementary, where he served both the school and the community. His 40 years in education included Peace Corps service in the Philippines, and as principal of Cascades Elementary.

After retiring, he founded the Jackson Area Civil Rights Awareness Association with his wife Christine. JACRAA’s current projects are a summer series on White Privilege/White Responsibility; and Bridges to Justice, a series on criminal justice reform slated to begin next fall.

A Master Gardener, Peterson is a board member of Jackson’s Personal Care Ministry, a Challenge Day volunteer, and a member of First Congregational Church.

The recipients of the 2015 Harold White Sr. Memorial Volunteer Award were Delia Johnson and Harold (Jock) White Jr.

Since retiring from social work, Johnson has become active in advocating work to end the “new Jim Crow.” She has assisted in the JACRAA Ten-Ten project, worked with the Dungy Tree Homework Completion Project, the Jackson Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Anthony Gittens JET project, writing a grant for financial support and developing curriculum for youth.

White, who continues the legacy of his father’s service to the community, spent his career in the corrections system. Since retiring, he has continued to serve in his volunteer work with schools, Cradle to Career, School Justice Partnership, and state committees for prison reform. He has been a member of JACRAA since its inception, co-founded People for Peace, and has supported the work of T.A. Wilson. White has regular meetings with the JPS central administration, and serves as an advocate at school disciplinary hearings.

Other nominees for the award included Anthony Gittens, Arlene Shephard, Christine Peterson, Don Tassie, Ed Peterson, Hakim Crampton, Henry Grayson, Jackson First Church of the Nazarene- Compassionate Ministries, and Toni B. Jones.

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