Positive Living

St. Jude Spirit of the Dream commemorates 50th anniversary of Memphis sanitation workers strike

St Jude celebrated the Memphis sanitation workers strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis.

St. Jude Dream the Spirit honoreesFormer Mayor Willie Herenton, right, with honorees Elmore Nickelberry, Baxter Leach, and Ozell Ueal

It’s always great hearing about the wonderful things that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is doing. Here’s another great event that took place earlier this week:

Approximately 300 people celebrated Black History Month at St. Jude for the third annual St. Jude Spirit of the Dream event on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Organized in partnership with the National Pan-Hellenic Council Memphis Metropolitan Area, the event celebrated the achievements and contributions that African Americans have made to the St. Jude legacy.

Emceed by Elise Neal, the cocktail event featured art, a live performance from Raheem DeVaughn, dancing and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Hilton Rawls III, 7, delivered a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Mountaintop speech.

Hilton Rawls III delivers speech
Hilton Rawls III, 7, delivers a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Mountaintop speech

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of a new Spirit of the Dream Award that posthumously honored Bernal Smith II, president and publisher of the New Tri-State Defender. The award recognizes people who support the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and champion the lifesaving mission of St. Jude: Finding cures. Saving children.®

Bernal smith receives posthumous award
Towanda Peete-Smith, right, accepts the Spirit of the Dream Award that posthumously honored her late husband Bernal Smith II.

When describing Smith, guests remembered him for how he empowered the city’s majority African-American population to make a difference. Others described him as “Memphis through and through,” and as “a passionate and persuasive voice for the city he loved.”

“Although young in years, Bernal possessed a purposefulness and power of discernment, far beyond his years. He loved Memphis, accepted it with its challenges, but dreamed of the fulfillment of its potential,” said A C Wharton, former Mayor of Memphis. “It is often said that old men dream dreams and young men see visions. Bernal had both, dreams of what our city could become and visions of the joy we would witness once Memphis became truly the place where every man woman and child would drink plentifully from God’s bounty.”

There was also a special presentation related to the 1968 Sanitation Workers. Among the honorees were Ozell Ueal, Rev. Cleophus Smith, Baxter Leach, Elmore Nickelberry and H.B. Crockett. The sanitation workers were the catalyst to safer working conditions for black and white workers, improved labor representation, and the “I AM A MAN” strike.

St. Jude Dream the Spirit honorees
Former Mayor Willie Herenton, right, with honorees Elmore Nickelberry, Baxter Leach, and Ozell Ueal
Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of PositivelyGospel.com. Sarah founded the site to serve as a positive platform for gospel music news, to share all of the good things happening within the Gospel and Christian music industry. In 2017, the site was named one of the Top 50 Gospel and Christian Music websites. An ordained minister of the Gospel, Sarah has done missions work in Kenya, India, Haiti, Nicaragua and other nations, as well as locally and throughout the United States.

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