On June 2, Joe and Ann Scheidler made a quick day-trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Awards Luncheon honoring three stalwart pro-life leaders in the African-American community. Black Americans for Life, an outreach of the National Right to Life Committee, presented awards to Dr. Mildred Jefferson, Rev. Dr. Johnny Hunter and Kay Coles James for their outstanding leadership on life issues.
The mission of Black Americans for Life is to encourage African-Americans to break their silence on the tragedy of abortion in their communities. They believe that if they equip Black people with the facts of this modern-day genocide, they will respond and work to end the killing of black children.
Event Sponsored by Sen. Santorum
The Awards Luncheon was held in the Manchester Room of the U.S. Capitol, under the sponsorship of Senator Rick Santorum. The event was organized by Day Gardner, National Director of Black Americans for Life. Dr. Alveda King, niece of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and daughter of slain civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King, was a special guest at the luncheon and treated the invitees to a medley of Freedom Songs, as well as leading the group in singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem.
Claude A. Allen, domestic policy assistant to President George W. Bush, was the keynote speaker. He recalled hearing Kay James speak several years ago at a pro-life meeting in Virginia. He was so struck by her description of the impact of abortion on the black family, that he realized he had to become personally involved in the effort to educate his brethren and stem the tide of abortion in the black community.
He also told the story of a good friend who moved in with him in order to offer his own apartment as a home for a young pregnant woman who had been kicked out by her family because she was pregnant. Having nowhere to go, she was planning an abortion until Claude’s friend came to her rescue.
Black Pro-Life Roots Go Deep
Kay Coles James also served President Bush as the head of the Office of Personnel Management from 2001 to 2005. She had worked with National Right to Life for many years, so when she left government work she wanted to find another way to work in the pro-life movement. She told a job consultant that she wanted to find a job that would earn enough money in the next three years to free her to accept a job as the director of a crisis pregnancy center.
In receiving her award Kay James spoke about hearing Dr. Mildred Jefferson speak shortly after Roe v. Wade. She was so impressed with the young, beautiful, intelligent physician that she threw herself into pro-life work.
Dr. Johnny Hunter is the National Director of Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN), dedicated to outreach to the African-American community. Dr. Hunter is an ordained minister and served as a founding co-pastor of National Community Church on Capitol Hill. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Methodist-Episcopal Church USA.
Dr. Mildred Jefferson: Pro-Life Leader
Dr. Mildred Jefferson was the first African-American woman graduate of Harvard Medical School. She has been awarded twenty-eight honorary degrees by American colleges and universities. She has been a leader in the pro-life movement since the early 1970’s and served three terms as president of the National Right to Life Committee.
The three honorees were well chosen for their significant contributions to the pro-life movement and for their efforts to mobilize the African-American community in the battle against abortion. We were honored to be invited to the Awards Luncheon and grateful for the opportunity to express our appreciation to all three.