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Parks Co-Host Women Of Excellence Symposium

National Capital Parks-East

National Park News

On Wednesday, March 28th, the National Park Service, National Council of Negro Women, Inc., National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the African American Experience Fund, a branch of the National Park Foundation, jointly celebrated Women’s History Month.

They recognized the only two national parks honoring African American women – the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS and Maggie L. Walker NHS – by hosting the "Women of Excellence" symposium.  This symposium took place from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., on Capitol Hill at the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon House Office Building.  

The keynote speaker, Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine, gave a fitting “challenge” to more than 450 attendees on teaching youth to be empowered. Several students from Washington, D.C., public schools, Montgomery County public schools, and Reading (Pennsylvania) public schools attended the event.

B. Smith, the famous model, television personality, and restaurant owner, is the national spokeswoman for the African American Experience Fund and served as the symposium’s mistress of ceremonies. There were two panels, led by noted historians and community leaders, which looked at the impact of women from the era of Mary McLeod Bethune, Maggie Lena Walker, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to women who are currently “Transforming Lives through the Courtroom and the Classroom.”

Additional presentations included information on the future exhibitions of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Park Service’s digital storytelling program. Remarks were given by Lydia Sermons, executive director of the African American Experience Fund, Julia Washburn, associate director of interpretation and education for the National Park Service, David Ruth, superintendent of Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie L. Walker NHS, Ajena Rogers, supervisory ranger at Maggie L. Walker NHS, Joy Kinard, Ph.D., Central District manager for National Capital Parks-East, Gopaul Noojibail, deputy superintendent for National Capital Parks-East, Marta Kelly, chief of interpretation for the National Park Service, and other area congressional and community leaders.

This event concluded with a luncheon at B. Smith’s restaurant in Union Station and a fundraising gala event at the Willard Hotel, where other women of excellence were honored. To learn more about the African American Experience Fund or the sites they support, please visit www.aaexperience.org.



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