Five Soulsville USA women share honors

As women around the world gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day, five women in the Soulsville USA neighborhood were honored as trailblazers as part of the college’s Women’s History Month celebration.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” was the theme for this year’s event, held at Metropolitan Baptist Church March 8.

The women honored included: Dr. Cheryl Golden, professor of psychology, Alison Turner, student, Carolyn Cleveland, Tama Gavin, and guest speaker, Lori Spicer Robertson.

“The women figures in my life encouraged me to be a trailblazer; it also set a tone for me for what I needed to do and how I needed to be, to follow in their footsteps to be a trailblazer,” Robertson said. “Trailblazers have the personal quality of strength, courage and embracing and learning from personal setbacks and a support system that pushes you when others tell no you can’t.”

She led students, faculty, staff and friends in reciting the mantra, “A true trailblazer will blaze their own trails.”

In the fall of 2009, Dr. Golden led a collaboration with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. The LeMoyne-Owen College Community Partnership (LOCCP) was developed to reduce crime, address vacant/dilapidated housing, intervene in environmental health issues, and create stronger bonds between the College, neighborhood associations, businesses, and churches. The College assumed the role of a liaison to the community by providing a space for area residents to have monthly meetings with representatives from city and county agencies and other community stakeholders.

Alison Turner is a senior, double major in music and business management. She is an active member of the Soulsville Neighborhood Association and a member of the Soulsville, USA planning committee. Turner has been engaged in the construction of the “I Love Soulsville”Rock Garden at the corner of McLemore and Mississippi, and in the series of workshops and town hall meetings.

Carolyn Cleveland is an officer of the Soulsville Neighborhood Association and a member of the Soulsville, USA planning committee on the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee. She organized the Soulsville Neighborhood Watch and participated in the Citizen’s Police Academy, making the neighborhood eligible for resources that support safety and crime prevention.With the Friends of Chandler Park, Cleveland assisted in obtaining corporate assistance to resurface the walking trail and basketball court.

Tamara Gavin of iHeartMedia and homeowner in the historic Fountain Court, developed an interest in Soulsville from having grandparents who owned houses on Azalea Street and Oak Street. She became a member of the Soulsville Neighborhood Association and volunteered for the Soulsville, USA Planning Committee.  A marketing professional, Gavin leads the Community Engagement Committee and is responsible for the Soulsville, USA FaceBook page.

Lori Spicer Robertson is the chief communications and engagement officer at United Way of the Mid South, works with women and area youth. ‎ Five years ago, she conceptualized and chaired the inaugural Modern Day Women’s Conference for the Women’s Foundation of a Great Memphis. She lives on the historic Fountain Court with her husband Eric Robertson, CEO of Community Lift and son, Liam. In addition, she launched Brown Girl Dreams, a self-awareness program for high school girls.

Robertson served as former vice president of the Soulsville Neighborhood Association and a member of the Soulsville, USA planning committee, and has recruited consultants, led workshops, and spoken on panels about the community’s progress at town hall meetings.

The event concluded with a rendition of Mary Mary’s “Can’t Give Up Now” performed by LOC students Shalonda Campbell and Vershondia Anderson.

Each year, March is designated as National Women’s History Month to ensure that the history of American women will be recognized and celebrated in schools, workplaces, and communities throughout the country.March 8 has been observed as International Women’s Day since 1911 and is a national holiday in 15 countries.

Dr. Femi Ajanaku and The Center for African and African American Studies sponsored the event.