Business Civic League honors achievements

Published 12:04 am Saturday, February 11, 2012

ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — Betty Washington Sago, left, who was named Woman of the Year, and her husband, Monroe Sago, who was named Man of the Year, walk back to their seats after accepting their awards Friday evening during the Natchez Business and Civic League Annual Awards Banquet at the Natchez Convention Center.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed information about the awards presentation. Emma Rose Jackson presented the awards. We regret the error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Business and Civic League honored several community members Friday night for their achievements in keeping black history alive, overcoming adversity and excellence in education.

Betty Washington Sago received the title of Woman of the Year, and her husband, Monroe Sago was named Man of the Year at the league’s annual awards banquet at the Natchez Convention Center.

The Sagos operate the Rhythm Night Club Memorial Museum that commemorates the 209 people who died in a fire at the dance hall on April 23, 1940.

Emma Rose Jackson presented the Sagos their awards and encouraged people who have not to visit the museum.

“There is just a wealth of knowledge at the museum, and they have done a great job with it,” Jackson said.

The Willie S. Scott Civic Award went to the Rev. Thomas James Chatman for his non-profit community work. Chatman is a former drug addict, who started a ministry while serving 15 years in prison. Chatman founded Coming Out of the Dark Ministries, a street ministry that has helped 74 individuals off the street and into rehabilitation.

Four local high school students were honored for their outstanding academic, extracurricular and community achievement.

Cathedral High School seniors Andrew Carter and Kandice Bailey and Natchez High School seniors Jonathan Weir and Debra Whitley received youth awards.

NBCL President Bishop Melvin Jackson presented Rita Winn and Brenda Harris with the president’s award. Jackson said both women have diligently served the NBCL and are always willing to dedicate their time and talents to the league.

Broadcast journalist Tony Brown, host of “Eyes Open with Tony Brown,” was the keynote speaker at the banquet. Brown delivered a message of the importance of parents keeping black history alive and passing it on to their children to inspire a successful future that he said starts with education.

Brown said parents must invest in their children’s education and must do a better job of teaching children about their forgotten heritage and teaching black history to all American children as a part of the world’s history.

“Education is the great emancipator of economic slavery,” he said.

All the knowledge in the world, Brown said, can be found in books, and he said that is where education must start.

“We must teach our children to pull up their pants, pick up their heads, put down the iPads and Xboxes and read,” Brown said.