WVUA 23 News is partnering with Jerusalem AME Zion this month, celebrating West Alabamians of color who have made a difference in their communities.

Each day in February we’ll be presenting a new honoree.

Sheryl Renee Jones is Christian education director and children’s Sunday school teacher at Jerusalem AME Zion Church.

Lakeda Smith is executive director at the Benjamin Barnes branch of the YMCA in Tuscaloosa, and is the agency’s first female director.

Phillip Craig began spreading his love of percussion in 2011 when he started Drum Nation. The school is dedicated to building a community of drummers in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area.

Sharon Hawkins is a certified registered nurse practitioner and is currently employed by the Alabama Department of Mental Health at Bryce Hospital, where she serves as a medical provider.

Karen Thompson is the executive director for Temporary Emergency Services and has served in that position for 26 years.

Pamela Pruitt is a retired educator who is still making a difference in the lives of others. Currently, she serves as an assistant supervisor of the Las Amigas Junior Federated Girls Club, volunteers at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and is an advisory board member for the foster grandparent program.

Emma Jean Melton has served as chair of the board of management for the Murphy African-American Museum since 1995, and is also active in several other community organizations.

Eva Harris Owens is a national youth supervisor overseeing 38 state organizations.

Denise Perry is a national board-certified counselor at Eastwood Middle School. In November, she was presented with the Alabama Counselor of the Year award by the Alabama School Counselor Association.

Ranika Amerson is assistant principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Rev. Matthew Wilson serves at Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Marion, but he also serves on the Tuscaloosa City Schools’ Board of Education.

Danny Steele is co-owner of VanHoose and Steele Funeral Service and Cremation.

Raevan Howard serves as District 2 Tuscaloosa City Councilwoman.

Yosondra Lett is principal of Southview Elementary School in Tuscaloosa.



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