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HomeAt Home & BeyondBlack Educators Caucus Honors Local Women

Black Educators Caucus Honors Local Women

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Five local African-American women were honored on March 16 for their dedication to their profession and their service to the community. The occasion was the Third Annual Christene Yant Women’s History Month Breakfast. The event was held at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church of Twin Lakes.

Local educator Imani Asukile introduced the idea of recognizing outstanding women two years ago and the event was named in honor of Christene Yant, a retired Hernando County School Guidance Counselor and chair of the Black Educators Caucus (BEC) for more than 30 years.
Mrs. Yant was born and raised in Tallahassee but moved to this area in 1973. In her thirty-six years in the school system, she worked at Hernando High School, Brooksville Primary, Spring Hill Elementary and Springstead High School. She is married to retired businessman James Yant, who owned an insurance company for many years. In addition to her career, Mrs. Yant has served as a Brownie troop leader, a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer and a mentor in the Take Stock in Children program.

The first honoree was Cora Mae Allen Brown, a retired registered nurse. Mrs. Brown was part of the last graduating class of Moton High School in 1968 and was elected Homecoming Queen that year. She attended Daytona Beach Community College, where she studied nursing. She worked as a charge nurse at Halifax Hospital for eleven years before moving back to Brooksville and working at Lykes Memorial Hospital for the remaining 28 years of her career.

“I knew when I was nine years old that I wanted to become a nurse and that I wanted to help other people,” remarks Mrs. Brown.

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In addition to her nursing career, she has served as a deaconess at her church, Josephine Street Church of the Living God. Among Mrs. Brown’s pastimes are fishing, baking, and crocheting baby blankets, which she gives away. Some of the recipients of her baby blankets are members of professional football teams and ABC Action News anchorperson Jackie Calloway.

Bonatha “Bonnie” Grier-Inmon is a retired Hernando County teacher and was named Spring Hill Elementary School’s 1999 Teacher of the Year. She grew up on a farm in Blakely, Florida, with nine siblings, an experience that created a strong work ethic. She and her brothers and sisters were the first generation of their family to graduate from college. Mrs. Inmon’s alma mater is Tuskegee Institute.

Her peers describe her as a team player who will lead if she has to but is comfortable playing the support role− something she may have learned from growing up in a large family. This attribute is evident in her work for her church, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist, and in various organizations to which she belongs. Mrs. Inmon’s hobbies include bowling, quilting and reading.

In her acceptance speech, she quoted a passage from the Book of Lamentations: ‘God’s mercies are new every morning.’ “So that tells me that when I wake up in the morning, I feel alive and I have an opportunity to get it right. If I didn’t get it right yesterday, I have another chance. ”

The next honoree was Brenda Washington Mobley, the retired director of Mid-Florida Community Service (MFCS). In her forty-six years with MFCS, she was responsible for a number of projects that improved her community.

Among these were addressing food shortages and protecting homes from the elements. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Leo University.
Since her retirement, Mrs. Washington Mobley has continued to serve in many ways− as a member of the Executive Board of the local NAACP and as a precinct worker for the Supervisor of Elections, to name just a few. She’s a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Shady Rest.

Her favorite saying is, “May the work that I’ve done and in living speak for me.”

Donia Woods Brown had many obstacles to overcome in her life. She was one of ten children raised in the all-Black community of Twin Lakes in Hernando County. Ms. Woods Brown was widowed at a young age, becoming a single mother of nine children. She’s proud that all her children graduated from high school. Ms. Woods Brown is described as someone “who claimed the American Dream on her own terms.”

In speaking of her achievements, she stated, “I started out as a dishwasher, but you have to crawl before you can walk. I got help from God and from my community.”

Ms. Woods Brown worked in several culinary positions, eventually retiring as a cafeteria worker in the Hernando County schools. She is active at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Spring Lakes, where she teaches Sunday School and serves as an usher. Her hobbies include cooking, quilting and doing crossword puzzles.

The last recipient, Frances Oliver, could not attend the ceremony due to illness, so her daughter, Pamela Lawson, spoke on her behalf.

Mrs. Oliver was the first African American female president of the Kennedy Park Little League baseball program and was a softball coach. She grew up in Lakeland, but relocated to Brooksville in 1977 and served in various positions at the Hernando County Health Department. She retired in 1999 after serving 35 years for the State of Florida.

She enjoys sewing, spending time with her family, as well as singing and teaching Sunday School at Anointed to Win Outreach Ministry. Her goal is to make sure that the youth do not allow their circumstances to determine their destiny.

Brenda Barker recited a poem by Maya Angelou that is especially appropriate during Women’s History Month. The poem is entitled “Phenomenal Woman” and states in part,
“Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud…
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

All five of these honorees are phenomenal women and they exemplify traits that everyone− male or female− regardless of race or creed, can emulate. These traits are the pursuit of an education, hard work, family values, serving others and worshipping God.

The Black Educators Caucus was founded in 1981 and is affiliated with the Hernando County Classroom Teachers Association. Among its goals is to advance the interest of the teaching profession, promote the welfare of Black educators throughout the county, ensure that the educational needs of the local minority community are met, and serve as a think tank and black educators research center. Each year, they grant the Marie A. Lawson Scholarship for $1,500 to a deserving minority student.

The BEC is open to anyone, whether or not they are an educator, regardless of gender or race. For more information, contact Christene Yant at 352-232-6362.

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