“Helping our Community Help Itself” was the theme North Lawndale News chose as the theme for this year’s awards banquet. The banquet was held this past Saturday in the new Homan Square Park facility located at 3559 W. Arthington. As one of the speakers pointed out, North Lawndale News does not focus only on negative headlines?”shootings, killings and drugs.

Isaac Lewis, Jr., president/CEO of Strategic Human Services and editor of North Lawndale Community News, is a living testament to individuals who turned their lives around after being sidelined by drugs. How easy it would be for any of us, black or white, to simply write those people off.

But how many of us have the intestinal fortitude to resist temptation, addition, or unhealthy habits? As a result, Lewis serves as a role model for black men struggling against the odds, and his accomplishments have a greater impact, because he has an understanding of negative behavior. (Oprah Winfrey is another example. She has become one of our nation’s leading entrepreneurs and has been very open about her own struggles with negative behavior.)

The keynote speaker for this year’s banquet was the first woman appointed president of Malcolm X College, Zerrie D. Campbell, one of a select group of female college executives working hard to change the way higher education is delivered. Campbell has led Malcolm X College to national recognition. It was named a model of “Exemplary Practices” by the Campus Compact Organization, a Carnegie project.

Campbell, a down-to-earth, outgoing personality, bears a resemblance to the legendary entertainer Josephine Baker.

In her speech, Campbell’s offered her political ABCs:

A: Be politically active. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

B: Be politically bold. Stand for and don’t run from what you believe.

C: Be politically connected, collaborate and be a team player. You are going to help the community help itself.

Concluding her remarks, she quoted part of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address on May 19, 1994 when he became president of South Africa: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

The honorees were: State Sen. Rickey Hendon; Rev. Wilson Daniels, pastor of United Baptist Church; Dr. Lincoln Scott, pastor of the House of Prayer and founder of the Hope House Transitional Shelter; and Pastor Phil Jackson, associate pastor of Lawndale Community Church and pastor for The House Covenant Church (Rev. Jackson recently completed a book, The Hip Hop Church; Julius Anderson, educator; Ron and Lillian Lofton, co-owners of Lofton & Lofton Management, Inc., operators of four McDonald’s restaurants on the West Side; Bruce Miller, CEO of Lawndale Christian Health Center; and Mary Reed, community activist and entrepreneur.