By Dedra Cordle
The village of Urbancrest’s 10th annual Black History Celebration was held on Feb. 23. Five individuals were recognized during the ceremony for their contributions toward the development of the community.
“They were willing to take that first step,” said the village’s mayor, Joseph Barnes Sr., as the ceremony began.
Those honored include former village council members, a current county commissioner, a congresswoman and a developer.
Receiving distinguished honors were Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce.
Beatty, the current U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District, has been active in the political realm for nearly two decades.
In addition to her long-standing encouragement for women and minorities to create economic opportunities, Beatty was recognized at the ceremony for becoming the first African-American woman to be elected to serve the 3rd Congressional District and for the time she served as the first woman named as the Democratic House Leader.
Boyce, a former House of Representatives member for the 25th district, currently sits on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. Like Beatty, Boyce has also served in the political realm for nearly two decades and in that time, Barnes said both have made an indelible impact on the people and the communities they serve.
“They are examples of the progression and growth of a people and a community,” he said.
Barnes said in a time of political turmoil, Beatty and Boyce can be relied upon to be steady leaders for the community.
“They are doing some great things (in their respective positions) and by doing so are helping all of us to move forward,” he said.
Scheduling conflicts kept Beatty and Boyce from attending the ceremony, but Boyce said in a written statement that it was a “tremendous honor to be recognized for my service to the public.” He also said he was “proud to serve the residents of Urbancrest and all of Franklin County as commissioner.”
Those presented with the Ellen Walker-Craig Jones Award for their commitment to community service were Joseph Barnes, Abdi Issa and Robert Dolan.
As a developer, Dolin was recognized for his instrumental work in the annexation of Interstate 270 within the village of Urbancrest’s boundaries.
Barnes said without Dolin’s vision, as well as the approval of the village council and then mayor Ellouise Trout, the community might not be enjoying some of the growth and business opportunities they have today.
Issa, a former village councilman and current member of the planning commission and board of public affairs, was recognized for his dedication to the village as well as his passion to create bonds between the Somali community and the community at large.
Having resided in the village since 2004, Issa took an active interest in politics and never wavered in his quest to make a difference despite setbacks.
“I ran in 2005 and lost, I ran in 2007 and lost again, but when I ran in 2009, I got it,” he said with a laugh.
Issa said he was proud to have served the community and takes pride in continuing to serve in any capacity for the betterment of the village.
Village secretary Elberta Barnes surprised Mayor Joseph Barnes with the Ellen Walker-Craig Jones Community Service Award.
She said he was deserving of recognition for his vision and continued dedication to the community. She jokingly referred to him as a “gnat” for said dedication.
“He is always determined to get what is needed for Urbancrest,” she said.
Growing up in Washington D.C., Barnes moved to the village in the early 1980s and became a community activist for young adults and senior citizens.
In the mid 80s, Barnes ran for council and served two terms before joining the board of public affairs. Another council term followed and, in 2008, he was elected to the position of mayor.
Joseph Barnes said he is humbled by the recognition and added that he takes no “glory” onto himself.
“This village is God’s village,” he said. “I’m just a steward for this season for this appointed time.”
He added that with God’s blessing, the village will continue to thrive and prosper.