Every now and then we ask others to help give us a window into a given special event. This time around we were very fortunate to get the perspectives of Juel Pate Borders-Benson, M.D., one of the participants of the National Women’s History event held last week at The New Schools at Carver. Her insights were so heartfelt and information, we’ll let Dr. Borders-Benson take it from there …
I am honored to give reflections on the timely, well planned, informative, inspirational Carver Early College National Women’s History Month Program held on March 26.
The setting: I had not been on the campus since the erection of the New Schools at Carver. I had passed the campus on the Jonesboro Road side several times, but had not walked on the campus since 1952. Then, the institutions were Carver Vocational School and Gammon Theological Seminary. You can imagine the joy, surprise and delight that I experienced when I was directed to the combination library, assembly room in the Carver Early College. Every possible space had books, pictures, posters, study/reading areas, plants, with bright colors to stimulate the mind, and soul.
I was immediately approached by several students, who were not only interested in medicine in general, but already had interests in specialties, naming pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. Prior to the program, we had time to become acquainted. I asked them more questions than they asked me. I received much information from the students on the curriculum, criteria on entrance to the Early College and instructors.
“We Speak Your Name” by the Lady Voices of Carver Early College: This presentation was electrifying! These young women were intelligent, aggressive, confident, dramatic, fearless speakers. Their strong voices could easily be heard without microphones, as they walked from the front or back of the room, or as they stood up unexpectantly in the audience. They honored outstanding women in all fields of endeavor. They called the names of the honorees and repeated the chant, “We speak your name.” I could feel that they already knew that they could fulfill their dreams, achieve their goals, master their chosen careers, and break records already set.
Dr. Keisha Nalty, main speaker: This unusual message was filled with the unbelievable history of great women in all professions, who had achieved against all odds. I was especially inspired when she stated that it was not necessary to repeat the great things already done. This generation was challenged to set new goals, and to climb higher and different mountains. She asked the students the questions: “What will history say about you? What will you achieve? Who will call your name?” At the conclusion of the program, Dr. Nalty, Social Science Coordinator of Atlanta Public Schools, was named an honorary faculty member of the Carver Early College.
The Honorees: The six honorees were Rev. Dr. Juel Pate Borders-Benson, former Atlanta mayor the Hon. Shirley Franklin, Atlanta Board of Education member Brenda J. Muhammad, Superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall, Carver Early College Principal Marcene Thornton, and APS Health, Physical Education and Athletics Billette D. Owens-Ashford. These African-American women are all over-achievers — dedicated, community oriented, highly educated, spiritual women. Each honoree has been the first to achieve a significant goal in her own respective profession. Each honoree was presented with the National Women’s History Project Certificate of Merit, an Honorary Membership in the Upendo JAJA, ”an organization dedicated to cultivating and enhancing young ladies with class, culture and refinement;” a Sweetheart Award from The Esquires, Incorporated; and individual gifts. Since my field was medicine, my special individual gift was a book by David Monagan entitled Journey Into the Heart: a Tale of Pioneering Doctors and Their Race to Transform Cardiovascular Medicine. The remarks from each honoree were special, sincere, meaningful and historic.
The Gentlemen of Carver Early College: These young male students were attired in black suits, white shirts and colorful red, black and white ties. They were very polite gentlemen who assisted in accommodating the overflow audience; who were escorts as needed; and who were obviously proud of the young women who performed. Some of these gentlemen were members of The Esquires, Incorporated, described on the Sweetheart Award as “Young Men Who Demonstrate Excellence in Academics, Leadership, Scholarship, Athletics, Community Service and Respect for Womanhood.”
The Audience: The students and faculty were attentive and very responsive throughout all presentations. By their applause, they showed their appreciation for Dr. Thomas H. Gosha, Founder of The Esquires, and Student Activities Coordinator; and Marcene Thornton.
Kathryn Anderson Weaver designed the six-panel informative, comprehensive program that included the history of Women’s History Month, and the biographies of the honorees. She masterfully coordinated the program, and guided the students through the performances and presentations. Dr. Gosha, Mrs. Weaver and the planning/working committees are to be congratulated for a National Women’s History Month Program which involved music, poetry, speeches, extensive student participation, and living history in the main speaker and the honorees.
The entire experience was unforgettable, marvelous and wonderful! I was honored, grateful, and very thankful to share an occasion which was filled with past and present history, unspeakable joy, dedicated teachers; and gifted students, who will obviously have very bright futures.