Twenty-one trailblazing women across the US and Internationally received honors for making significant strides in their professions and communities, including Ms. Xernona Clayton of Atlanta, a civil rights activist and founder of the Trumpet Awards.
“I t was the most fabulous afternoon I have ever experienced,” said one guest. “I have never felt so honored,” said an honoree. ONYX Magazine’s fifth annual Women on the Move (WOTM), with Founding Member Orlando Health did not disappoint while 21 of Florida’s most ambitious and creative women received recognition during an awards luncheon on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, at the Alfond Inn, Winter Park, Fla.
Authentic and positive energy flowed through the room of more than 300 guests as each speaker stepped to the podium- -from the introduction by co-chair Nancy Port Schwalb, who reminded the audience of the hard-fought battles women endured in the name of suffrage–to the words of keynote speaker Gayle Andrews, who followed up with the importance of why women should stand together and vote in the upcoming elections. The speakers referenced the afternoon’s theme: Valiant Women of the Vote, the official Women’s History Month theme.
“The event recognized leading black women spanning a range of business and industry,” said Rich Black, ONYX Magazine’s publisher, CEO and editor-in-chief. “In the spirit of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, these 21 women each exhibit boundless faith, servant leadership and play critical roles in the stellar success of their respective organizations in public and private sectors, higher education, healthcare and nonprofits.”
Perhaps the most powerful moment of the two-hour event happened when 89-year-old Xernona Clayton of Atlanta took the stage. Her poignant and unforgettable words wowed the audience. “If you can, you will, if you can’t, you won’t.” The standing audience, enthralled by her presence, took her words to heart and cheered with every piece of advice. The founder, president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc., and creator and executive producer of the Foundation’s Trumpet Awards, was well-received. Clayton began her television career in 1967 and became the South’s first black person to have her own television show. In 1965, she accepted a position with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clayton also traveled extensively with Coretta Scott King on her nationwide concert tours.
The International Woman on the Move is Dame Constance Mitcham, an attorney from St. Kitts and Nevis, who received her title from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Dame Constance is the
founder and head of Mitcham and Benjamin Attorneys-at-law, and a special adviser to the country’s prime minister. She admired the room and said, if a little girl from a small town could become a lawyer and a Dame, anything is possible for each of them.
New this year was the Community Impact Award, which was presented to a woman-led organization that has made significant strides in moving business and community forward. Black Business Investment Fund Florida is a community development financial institution driven to help Florida businesses thrive by providing loan capital alongside business development training. The president and CEO is Inez Long.
Each of the 21 honorees walked up one-by-one as her name was called to receive her honor. They received a beautiful engraved glass award, a wall certificate, and a swag bag full of decadent gifts from Walt Disney World, and a full set of Tupperware from sponsor Tupperware Brands.
“These powerful and innovative achievers are contributors to a thriving economy every day,” said Dee Parker of Parker Realty in Orlando and ONYX Magazine’s Advisory Committee chair. “Our sponsors and other supporters are pivotal to making Women on the Move one of the most prestigious events to recognize women across Florida.”
International Women on the Move honoree Dame Constance Mitcham, center, with from left ONYX Magazine co-founder Lester Seays, WOTM co-chair Nancy Port Schwalb, WOTM chair Dee Parker and ONYX CEO Rich Black
Dignitaries and corporate leaders from across Florida filed into the ballroom, which had been decorated with white and orange accents. Attendees noshed on salmon, herb chicken, vegetables and delectable desserts handcrafted by the Alfond Inn chefs. While they dined, guests swayed to the jazz sounds of Jazmin Ghent, a renowned saxophonist who received an NAACP Image Award. Guests got up on their feet and danced while Jazmin moved through the crowd playing some of her favorites, like “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman),” which mellowed the mood in the best way possible.
ONYX Magazine’s Women on the Move highlights women who have shattered the glass ceiling in their professions and persevered against all odds. The event was led by Chair Dee Parker and Co-chair Nancy Port Schwalb and the ONYX WOTM committee. ONYX Magazine was excited to collaborate with its sponsors to present these phenomenal women; trailblazers who are leading major businesses to succeed on national and international levels in several professional disciplines. Sponsors of this event were Founding Member Orlando Health, Women’s History Month Kickoff Reception Sponsor Mercedes-Benz of Orlando; Honoree Reception Sponsor Tupperware; and many event sponsors. Visit the WOTM website for a full list of sponsors.