Growing up in Brooklyn in the 70's I learned to be tough, smart and appreciate both sides of the road because we I lived in a neighborhood of both poor and the middle class families. I knew what it meant to have a Sunday meal after church at one of my friend’s dining room table and to stand on the food line with another friend to get a block of cheese and some bread for her mom. Being raised 'old school' our parents taught us the value of hard work because nothing in our life as African Americans would be easy to attain.
Amongst all of this my mother, my rock to this day, made sure I had to be a hard worker and exemplify a woman of class, moral values and most importantly strong faith. Not only was she a major influence, but it was my aunts, Godmothers and 'other mothers' from Rutland Road and Saint Francis of Assisi Church. Most importantly, an amazing sister circle of women my mother had in her life called The PaceSetters were my biggest influence. I realized that all of these women in my life were tough, courageous, strong, hard working, beautiful, faithful and intelligent. These traits have been the building blocks to shape my life. I was told everyday by these women; it would be my duty as a young woman, to be a leader, to give back and most importantly,
to empower others!
In July 2016, I got a chance to breathe, for the first time in twenty years from working for Wall Street firms. My amazing mother-in-law, Mrs. Marion Williams Gregory, now an angel in heaven, always told me I would be a great teacher but, "that job is going to kill you”. Thinking on her words and seeing all those women that came before me, I put this vision to paper!
It is MY TIME to create a new "sister circle" for my daughters, your daughters that is bigger, broader and brighter with other women that THINK LIKE ME!
It still takes a village to raise a child...
The location was Brooklyn, New York in May 1962. Two friends, Aliyah (Sylvia) Abdul‑Karim and Elizabeth A. McKinney invited several of their friends to help organize a social civic organization for the community which they named Les Jeunes Femmes (LJF). The initial group of sister friends consisted of Doris Striggles Porter, Vivian Johnson William, Mary McCoy Gomes and Jean Ross Davis. Their objectives were to enlighten young African American sisters with the awareness that Black is truly beautiful. Due to their many cultural projects, this organization quickly became the 'talk of the town', as well as, being pacesetters for other clubs and organizations to follow.
Nine years later in November 1971, the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day, Elizabeth A. McKinney and Camille Gardner Robinson took the meaning of friendship and family to a higher level. They invited LJF's members and families to this special dinner. Each member invited their beautiful friends to bring a dish and join in the festivities. This was the birth of The PaceSetters group; this new family and friends circle was now in place! Traditionally, each year a PaceSetter member would host the Pre‑Thanksgiving dinner at their home. This circle of friends and families grew to as many as 70 guests in one house! History was in motion...
On November 24, 1996, we celebrated our 25th Pre‑Thanksgiving Anniversary with a wonderful dinner/dance at The Lab Catering! We gave special praises to our glorious Creator for all the blessings that he has bestowed upon the PaceSetter family. Forty-eight years and four generations later in 2019,
we are still Family!
Today, the PaceSetters celebrate this Pre‑thanksgiving event in restaurants or members' establishments or homes. In addition to the Pre‑Thanksgiving event, the PaceSetters used to take family trips ... which a lot of the 3rd generation members surely can't forget Peekskill Ranch! The PaceSetters hope this tradition will continue into the next millennium, so that the 4th and 5th generations can understand the true meaning of 'Family'.
*The original Pacesetters who have gone home. We will Always Love You!
1st Generation (Our Mothers): Dorothy Striggles*, May Davis*, Jacqueline Anderson*, Susan Johnson*
2nd Generation: Aliyah Abdul‑Karim*, Elizabeth A. McKinney*, Camille Gardner Robinson, Doris Striggles Porter, Vivian Johnson William, Mary McCoy Gomes, (Emma) Jean Ross* & Howard Davis, Roberta Wyche, Calvin* & Ollie McClean*, Sylbe Tucker, Barbara Thomas, Carolyn Davis, Irma Whitely, Neal & Beverly Arno, Lavern* & Marilyn Jackson*, Alfred Porter, Sr., Marion Williams & William Ward, Gloria James*, Catherine Payton* and Randolph Greggs*
3rd Generation: Joseph & Felicia Gregory, Andre Davis, Stephen Davis, Corey & Kelli Galloway, Derek Corley, DeeAndra & Diane Dixon, Steve & Valerie Silva, Laurie* & Kyle Jackson, Mario & Kelly Smith, Sean & Alfred Porter, Lance & Kim Roller, Monique Thomas*, Mignon Thomas Little, Randall & Aisha Touré, Bilal & Majida Jihad, Gerard & Lisa Armorer, Calvin McClean, Esquiel & Patrice Abreu, Kenya Gardner, Kwanzia Robinson, Shawn Whitely, André, Gary & DaRell Simpson Brown*
4th Generation: Takia, Daquan, Khalil & Makaya Abreu’, Darnell Holloway, Danielle Biggs, Dior Christian Dixon, Lance II, Brie & Anais Roller, Whitney Little, Samori, Jabari & Sibongile Touré, Ibrahim & Assata Jahid, Justin & Ryan Smith, Brittney Silva, André, Michael, Seresh, Arrian and Chanti Simpson, Danielle & Gabrielle Gregory, The Porter Children - Alfred Porter III, Kareema, Ezykial-j, Special & Alicya Sabrya;
Geoffrey Nelson Galloway
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