KEYNOTE SPEAKER Dr. Joshua Murfree, at the podium, delivers the keynote address during Saturday night’s annual Scholarship and Mentoring Banquet of 100 Black Men of Bradley County. Listening at the head table at right are Rev. Aubrey and Barbara Actor, longtime supporters of the organization. 

A large crowd turned out once again Saturday evening at Lee University’s DeVos Recreation Center for the annual Scholarship and Mentoring Banquet of 100 Black Men of Bradley County.

This is the 25th year for the gala in the chapter’s  26-year history.

The chapter was organized in 1993 as Men of Action, prior to receiving its charter from the 100 Black Men of America national organization in 1994.

This year’s program featured Dr. Joshua Murfree, who was recently selected as the chief operations officer for the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority in Atlanta.

The theme of Murfree’s talk was being a positive role model in today’s society, especially by parents and other adults. He emphasized the importance of being involved in the educational environment. A former educator, Murfree spent 16 years as the international mentoring chairman for the 100 Black Men of America.

He won the hearts of Saturday evening’s audience, when he opened with, “I like Cleveland, and the 100 Black Men of Bradley County have a lot to offer.”

Another highlight of Saturday’s program was a special award to local resident Oscar Kelley, who has been instrumental in the founding and growth of the 100 Black Men of Bradley County. 

Kelley, accompanied by his daughters, Regina and Margaret, has also been a longtime member of the Bradley County Election Commission. He is currently struggling with health issues.

Scholarship Chairman Demetrius Ramsey, and Chapter President Ralph White, recognized this year’s high school mentees, who are receiving $103,000 in college scholarships from the 100 BMBC chapter.

Also recognized were younger students in the chapter’s mentoring program at Cleveland Middle school, as well as mentees who are now attending college. Jada Blackwell and Joshalyn Brown, two of these college students who are recipients of the scholarship program, were “Spotlight” presentees Saturday evening. White presented Immediate Past President Jonathan Porter with a special award, and other awards went to Don Humes, Ronnie Arnold and Michael Benson. Others on Saturday’s program included Pastor Edward Robinson, Cleveland Vice Mayor and chapter member Avery Johnson, chapter member [Ronnie] Arnold, Cleveland Councilman and Lee University College of Education Dean Bill Estes, Pastor Aubrey Ector, his wife and a longtime educator Barbara Ector, musician Jed Whaley, and national entertainer and performer Jermaine Purifory of Cleveland.  Full coverage of the banquet, with photographs, will be included in Tuesday’s print edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.

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