With all the negative reports on young black men often highlighted in the media, stories of young black men doing community work, taking care of their families or just being good citizens are seldom written about or featured on the nightly news.
One young man in the Austin community doing positive things is Johnny Westmoreland, a motivational speaker, model, organizer, father and businessman.
Having lost his mother at an early age, the seniors in the community looked out for him. Westmoreland felt it necessary to give back to the community that helped him by organizing the annual Senior Banquet and Fashion show in Austin.
Participants in the 6th annual show last Friday included: Austin Weekly Columnist Arlene Jones, Ald. Emma Mitts, (37th), Isaac Carothers (29th) Congressman Danny K. Davis, (7th, and WVON Radio Host Dr. Byron Reed.
This year’s banquet opening remarks were made by photographer and community legend William “Bill” Dale. Dale has been a Chicago fixture for many years and is the former 5th District Commander of The American Legion.
Fatima Williams and Mary Ann Huggins provided entertainment.
The highlight of the afternoon was the fashion show featuring The Black ‘N’ Elegant Modeling Troupe. Commentator Leon Hasley, who has worked with Westmoreland in previous years, describing each model and the outfits worn. Hasley kept the audience laughing with some of his colorful comments.
In wrapping up this year’s banquet Westmoreland remarked: “First of all it’s a blessing. I give God all the glory. It’s up to him to make sure this thing went well. We also put on a fashion show by The Black ‘N’ Elegant Modeling Troupe. Valerie Flowers is the director and her husband Dale is the executive producer. And I like to give back to the community.
“I grew up on the West Side of Chicago and honor my mother, who died on March 25, 26 years ago. These seniors played a very important role in my life where they helped raise me. When I needed something to eat, they never neglected me. When their sons ate black-eyed peas and cornbread, I ate black-eyed peas and cornbread. They didn’t give me a can of Ravioli. And I really appreciate the seniors and I like to continue to give. I learned a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom from these seniors. And I have a little daughter, Jahnaya Westmoreland, and she’s the most precious thing that God could have given to me after loosing my mother. She’s 1 1/2 years old and I thank God for her and I thank God for everyone who participated in my sixth annual seniors banquet and I will continue to push forward.”