black history woman's club


Banning Woman’s Club

The recent second Tuesday of the month Valentine’s Day meeting of the Banning Woman’s Club (TBWC) stepped lively with a program theme of heartwarming tidbits interweaving Black History Month and International Women’s Day.

The program, which usually features a guest speaker, was presented by several members who were “Clubwomen of the Day” as they fondly shared personal, cherished highlights from their own family histories.

Past president Joy Williams of Cherry Valley presented hearty memories of moving to Banning from El Centro when she was 15 years young. Williams is a Banning High School graduate. She married her husband, Joe, when she was 19. The couple raised five children, and Joy cared for her husband who had health issues until he passed after 52 years of marriage.

Williams was elected president of TBWC in COVID year 2020, and served through 2022. Her business background includes 15 years working at a jewelry shop and five years of service at Banning’s Hemmerling Elementary school.

Debbie Franklin of Banning presented a reading of her original poem that traced her African American history back to Ghana and five family members who were each bartered to different slave masters.

In 1906, her family gathered for a huge family reunion with more than 2,500 members present, most of them from North Carolina. Franklin beamed while sharing that the family continues monthly family reunions via Zoom.

Franklin has also served as a Banning mayor.

Beverly Witherspoon of Cherry Valley shared a woman’s best-kept secret, that she was born in Louisiana in 1938. She met her husband Boykin at a Louisiana State University (LSU) fraternity party. Witherspoon earned an LSU education degree, and has taught at a Catholic high school.

Her spouse joined the Air Force, and while stationed at an Oklahoma Strategic Air Command base, the couple raised two children.

As a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in 1970 she was nominated as an Outstanding Young Woman of the Year. She joined TBWC after visiting the Banning Woman’s Book Club. Beverly will soon be travelling to Wisconsin to be with her loving family. Her kind and dependable spirit is memorable.

Charlene Sakurai of Banning told us she was born in Los Angeles and earned her degree on “the eternity plan.” She has taught at various educational levels. Her joy is having attended a nursing school and becoming an oncology specialist. She delights in having travelled with her spouse, Sake.

Sakurai chairs the Banning Woman’s Book Club, which meets on the third Wednesday of the month, 11 a.m. at the Beaumont Café on Beaumont Avenue.

Colleen Wallace of Banning does double duty as TBWC’s newly elected president and as Banning’s mayor pro tem.

Wallace attributed recollections of her African American history to her father who was raised by his great-grandparents in the 1940s. Wallace traced her family back to Palm Springs where her mother lived on a reservation with a populace of mixed races that survived harsh discrimination.

Wallace is very proud that her grandmother is a college graduate, and that her industrious grandfather built a Banning home that yet serves as a family residence.

There will be a Black History Month celebration sponsored by the Cultural Alliance of the Pass at the Banning Woman’s Club, 175 W. Hayes, Banning, on Saturday, Feb. 25, 3-6 p.m. For tickets information, call (951) 922-4911.


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