In its sixth year, Dreamers, Visionaries and Leaders (DVL) highlights African Americans who have contributed to this country’s history, through several events during the month of February. The organization has grown to an important High Desert organization that recognizes and honors deserving citizens, and awards scholarships and grants to local individuals.
This year’s theme, Civil Rights in America – 50 Years (1964-2014), is being commemorated through a history collection commemorating these years. This history “lesson” is on display at Victorville City Hall throught Thursday, February 27 during regular city hall hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
During a celebration at Victor Valley College on Saturday, February 8, DVL honored 14 local African-Americans for their contributions to the local community. Community leaders, dignitaries and the general public were on hand to congratulate these deserving individuals living in the High Desert.
Garner Cordell Morris
Top honors went to Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Garner Cordell Morris. Growing up as the oldest of 13 children in Batesville, Mississippi, he worked at odd jobs such as chopping wood or harvesting crops to earn spending money. He has been married to wife Thelma for 57 years, and they have four children. Morris was in the U.S. Air Force for almost 30 years, and earned numerous medals, serving in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Denmark and Taiwan, China. After retiring, he earned a B.S. Degree in Aviation Management, and at age 80 is still working as the Community Liaison for San Bernardino County First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood.
Thirteen more honorees from varied walks of life were also highlighted during the program at Victor Valley College. They are:
Dr. Helena Johnson
Dr. Helena Johnson, a retired higher education administrator, who worked at the University of Redlands ad San Bernardino Valley College. She was the first people to graduate from CSU San Bernardino with a Doctorate of Educational Leadership. She has also served as president of the High Desert Section of the National Council of Negro Women in 2012, and is a community volunteer in her spare time.
Roxanne J. Young
Roxanne J. Young was promoted to Deputy Director with the Department of Aging and Adult Services last year. She begain her career with the county 20 years ago, and has worked in social services for the Department of Children and Family Services. Her accomplishments include development of a mentoring program, organizing the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Peace March in January 2000, and is active in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Elvin Momon has served as Superintendent of the Victor Valley Union High School District since October 2011. He has 26 years tenure with the district, and has served in positions of dean of students, principal, senior superintendent of human resources and more. He holds a master’s degree in counseling from Oregon State.
Dr. Joseph Morris
Dr. Joseph Morris, CNS, GNP, Ph.D, is currently Director of Nursing & Allied Health programs at Victor Valley College, and was formerly the Associatoin Dean of Nursing at West Coast University and the Campus Director of Nursing at Everest College. He has too many degrees and accomplishments to mention in this limited space.
Rita Jackson is on the Board of Trustees at Victor Valley Union High School District, and is a labor relations representative for the California School Employees Association representing over 2000 public school employees. She is a former U.S. Army finance officer, ordinance officer, and aDepartment of Defense civilian. She has worked for the VVUHSD and Apple Valley Unified School District. She is a former Army officer and a veteran with 17 years of service.
William Barnes has made an impact on those around him. Raised by a single mother in Mississippi, he grew up with morals, manners, values family traditions, and treating others as you want to be treated. From the age of 5 he has been interested in finding a cure for Diabetes and Alzheimers, due to having grandparents with these conditions. He hasn’t let his Dyslexia and hearing difficulties prevent him from being motivated to achieve academic and personal success.
Derek King is a God-fearing, happily married fater of four, a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, a principal at Excelsior’s Aviation, Medicine &6 Engineering Acacemy, and a director of the Victor Valley Chamber of Commerce. He has also served on the VVUHSD Trustee Board. He has a Bachelor’s Degree and two Master’s Degrees in educational fields, is a sought-after public speaker, and believes in support of local business and parental commitment in educational issues.
Jermaine Wright serves as a council member on the Adelanto City Council, is a former Adelanto School Board Trustee, and is also an active on the P.T.A. And Adelanto Saints Youth Football & Cheer organization. He is an outstanding leader, and is dedicated to volunteer work and community outreach. He and his wife of 16 years, Amber, have four children and have been foster parents to many children over theyears.
Curtis Green is a California native who first came to the High Desert in 1993. When offered a job in San Diego in 1996, he left and worked for Lockheed Martin and other large companies such as Qualcomm, Science Application International, and held other jobs which took him to many other countries. With a heart for giving back, he founded a non-profit called One of the Seventy, which mentors and empowers youth. He is currently a field representative for First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood and serves on several non-profit boards in the High Desert, including Academy for Grassroots Organizations.
Eddie “Strings” Martin
Eddie “Strings” Martin, was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and started playing guitar at age eight, and was a professional by age 14. To support his music ministry he worked as a truck driver for 44 years, and was a member of the Teamsters Union. He moved to California in 1970 and for 10 years sang in many chures and schools around Los Angeles, and as far away as Oregon and Arizona. Now located in the High Desert, he performs at the Spice of Live Festival, Juneteenth and the annual Kwanzaa celebration at Victor Valley College, bringing joy to many.
Barbara Morrow Williams
Barbara Morrow Williams is a native of Stockton, California. Her parents were small business owners and community leaders who developed her interests in non-profit organizations for arts and social action. She has a masters degree in Library and Information Science a Juris Doctorate, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Leadership & Policy Analysis. Her volunteer work and career have included leadership roles in arts, public libraries, banks, and other organizations.
E. Paul Williams
E. Paul Williams, PhD, partcipated in football in high school and received an athletic scholarship to University of Arizona, where he majored in Anthropology. He has a masters degree in South Asian Studies. He also attended BHU college in Banaras, India, where he studied Hindi and Sanskrit. He has worked as a college dean, Vice President and President at several southern California colleges and in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the Dean of Instruction for Humanities, Business, Applied and Fine Arts at Victor Valley College.
Malaika Wright has lived in the High Desert for 18 years, originally coming from Compton. In her early years, she experienced traumatic experiences that led her down the wrong path during adolescence, involving gangs and drugs. She decided to make a change, and became a certified drug and alcohol counselor. She has been a mentor to troubled teens, and has helped children, plus at-risk and homeless youth. She has owned Wright Family Childcare for the past 10 years