HARRISBURG – Celebrating Black History Month, Governor Edward G. Rendell and First Lady Judge Marjorie O. Rendell Wednesday honored five African American Pennsylvanians during a luncheon at the Governor’s Residence.
Cathy Ann Hardaway, Lackawanna County’s director of voter education; Erica K. Jackson, executive director of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania Inc., Erie County; Bishop Ernest C. Morris Sr. of Philadelphia County; Bishop Benjamin J. Ravenel Sr. of Dauphin County; and Bev Smith, a nationally recognized radio talk show host from Allegheny County were honored.
“It’s a privilege for Midge and me to personally thank each of these incredible individuals and recognize their contributions to the commonwealth,” Gov. Rendell said. “We are very grateful for the positive difference they make every day, and applaud Pennsylvanians everywhere who so tirelessly give of themselves in order to better their community.”
Gov. Rendell selected the five honorees from individuals recommended by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.
The governor and first lady also paid special tribute to state Rep. Frank L. Oliver, who is the most senior African American elected official in Pennsylvania, and the longest-serving elected African American member of the General Assembly.
“Rep. Oliver has dedicated more than 35 invaluable years to the people of Pennsylvania,” Gov. Rendell said. “From becoming the first African American treasurer of the Philadelphia Democratic Party to fighting for fair legislation, Frank is an inspiration to us all.”
Coordinated by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, the annual luncheon also included an invocation by Elder David Screven, pastor of Emanuel Church of God in Christ, Harrisburg, and president of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Conference of Greater Harrisburg; a solo by Bishop Joseph Aiken of Upper Room Baptist Church in Philadelphia; and a closing prayer by Bishop Richard F. Norris, presiding prelate of African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.