92 years of culture and community service and still going strong
By Lenita J. Joe
Special to the Outlook
For nearly a century, members of the Ladies Art and Social Club (LASC) of Florida A&M University have served the Tallahassee community by sponsoring and supporting artistic, cultural and humanitarian programs and efforts. This May was especially busy for the Club, which was established in 1924 by Mrs. Ardella Lee, the wife of FAMU’s third president John Robert E. Lee, Sr. (1924-1944). The LASC is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in Florida – continuing one of its initial goals, “to offer services to selected charitable and non-profit organizations with similar goals.”
On May 18 members of the organization served as hostesses for the Florida African-American Preservation Network (FAAHPN) Conference hosted by the John G. Riley Museum, in conjunction with a local host committee consisting of: Visit Tallahassee, Council on Culture and the Arts, Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation, Frenchtown Community and the ASH Gallery, Historic Capitol Museum, The Grove, City of Tallahassee, Florida Department of State-Divisions of Cultural Affairs and Historical resources, Museum of Florida History, Leon County School District and Florida A&M University Meek-Eaton Museum and Archives. On May 20, the group also served as hostesses for the Meek-Eaton Black Archives’ annual Emancipation celebration.
On May 22, The Meek-Eaton Black Archives on FAMU’s campus was the setting for the induction of thirteen new club members and the installation of new officers for 2017-2019. New officers are: President, Dr. Jerrlyne Jackson; Vice President, Mrs. Bettye Smith; Secretary, Mrs. Mae Williams; Assistant Secretary, Mrs. Lenita J. Joe; Treasurer, Mrs. Sylvia Petties; Chaplain, Mrs. Pamela Scott and Historian, Dr. Murell Dawson. Mrs. Lucile Alexander administered the oath to the new officers. Out-going officers are: Mrs. Clenteria Drayton, President; Dr. Patty Ball Thomas, Vice President and Mrs. Barbara Hunter, Secretary. Mrs. Saundra Inge favored the group with a musical selection dedicated to the out-going officers.
In a customary ceremony, LASC members welcomed the thirteen new members. Dawson maintained that this was an historic induction in that among the intakes was FAMU First Lady Sharon Robinson, wife of Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson. She said prior to Robinson’s intake, First Lady Helen Perry, wife of FAMU’s sixth president Dr. Benjamin L. Perry, Jr. (1968-1977), was the last president’s wife to hold membership in the Club. Other new members are: Ms. Aurelia Alexander, Mrs. Donna S. Barron, Ms. Jenny Bury, Mrs. Demetria J. Clemons, Mrs. Pamela Duncan, Mrs. Evelyn English, Mrs. Jessica Gallmon, Mrs. Sonja Jiles, Ms. Dorothy McCaskill, Dr. Yanela McLeod, Mrs. Mary Peters and Ms. Celia Suluki. The club has also had two honorary male members, Dr. Leonard H.B. Foote, the first director of the FAMU Hospital and Dr. James N. Eaton, Sr., founder and first director of the Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum (Meek-Eaton Museum and Archives). Both men were staunch supporters of LASC.
The Club engages in many service projects during their January through May meeting times. One long standing project is the preservation and upkeep of the flower gardens at the Meek-Eaton Museum. Annually, members also participate in the Rock-a-Thon, and Christmas Connection. A sewing project for local young ladies resulted in a fashion show, where the young ladies displayed their outfits and each youth received a sewing machine to continue her fashion designing. Each month’s meeting is punctuated with informative, entertaining or just fun activities. Other members of the Club are: Mrs. Althemese Barnes, Mrs. LaNedra Carroll, Mrs. Kate Condra, Mrs. Margaree Elkins, Mrs. Vettye Gibbs, Mrs. Edwina Martin, Mrs. Armentha Ray, Mrs. Narquinta Richardson, Mrs. Sharon Saunders, and Mrs. Dorothy Wells.