By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent
The Alpha Chi Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, an organization of African American business and professional women, hosted its annual Black History Month program on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at the Indian River Public Library. New Journal and Guide Publisher Brenda Andrews was the keynote speaker. This year’s theme was “Black Women in American Culture and History.”
The program was attended by a host of local African American entrepreneurs, educators, and activists, most dressed in African or ethnic attire. The program featured a re-enactment of crusading anti-lynching newspaper publisher Ida B. Wells-Barnett by Ukana Rollins.
The sorority honored one of its own, retired New Journal and Guide columnist Dr. Evelyn Sears-Peevy with their first-ever Black History Month Community Service Award. Sears-Peevy, who last week celebrated her 89th birthday, faithfully served the New Journal and Guide family and the Hampton Roads community as the newspaper’s Social and Civic Editor for 25 years. Guide publisher Brenda Andrews noted that when the newspaper recently moved to its new location, Sears-Peevy was the first to send flowers to her new office.
Dr. Peevy has a long history of service to the Hampton Roads community, the Iota Alpha Chi Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority where she has served as the chapter’s president and as the sorority’s national president. She has also been an active servant at her church, First Baptist Church, Bute Street.
Andrews delivered an enthralling keynote speech entitled “The Look of the Black Woman,” which Andrews used to keenly describe how American society has typically marginalized the role and contributions of black women. Andrews spoke with power and passion as she examined the challenges faced by black women both past and present. Andrews celebrated the work of historical Black women pioneers such as Shirley Chisholm, Maggie Walker, and Evelyn Peevy-Sears, but also noted the challenges faced by today’s African American women in the form of drug addiction, HIV-AIDS, and breast cancer. She also expressed the collective sadness felt by many in the Black community over the recent death of R&B vocalist Whitney Houston; but instead of dwelling on the loss, Andrews used Houston’s passing as a teachable moment. She urged the women in the audience, especially those who carry the weight of family burdens or who give the appearance of being overly-strong, to ” let someone know you love them.”
Following Andrews’ address, closing remarks were given by committee chairwoman Carolyn Williams and chapter president Cynthia Cheatham. The program ended with the audience singing the civil rights hymn “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” For more information about Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., please visit http://iota1929.org