On Thursday, the Jackie Robinson Boys & Girls Club of Cairo-Grady County held their Black History Program at Washington Middle School in dedication to Clarence “CJ” Williams, who died suddenly while on duty.
Stephen Francis, the JRBGC executive director, said that Williams was beloved by the children of the program and that Williams loved them back, thanking everyone for coming to the program.
“We appreciate his family for being here today, we are thankful for his service, and just want everybody to enjoy the program,” Francis said.
After a prayer led by Linda Norwood, a member of the JRBGC staff, a variety of musical performances were put on for the attending audience, including a performance of “What I Am” by Cynthia West’s class, the Cairo High School Chorus directed by Erikka Edwards and Rythym of the Heart dancers directed by Brittany Williams.
During the program, Mackenzie Orange’s class staged a performance of dressing up as inspiring African American figures, from historical names, such as Jackie Robinson, to locals, such as Francis and their respective parents, and speaking about their stories.
Mayor Booker Gainor spoke afterward and said that he was proud to see every facet of the Cairo community gathered together in supporting the children behind the night’s program.
“As I look around the room, I see just about every entity in this community represented here today,” he said. “We have our city council, we have our board of education, Dr. McFee, our superintendent, our chief of police, Giovannie Santos, from our Cairo Police Department, we have our Grady County Sheriff’s Department, our commissioners, all here this evening. Every entity is here supporting these young people.”
He went on to recognize the importance of education, speaking about the upcoming tests and imploring parents to encourage attendance and application, before moving onto recognizing Williams and other important figures of the community.
“I’d like to recognize CJ Williams and his family, his fiancee, they’re all here,” Gainor said. “CJ was a young man who filled in a gap. He was a bridge builder and we need more of that in our community than we have.”
After Gainor spoke, a special presentation was held in honor of Williams and his family, with officers of the Cairo Police Department coming up to the front of the stage to be recognized. Williams’ family was given a bouquet and trophy during the presentation.
After the presentation, Donica Williams, JRBGC board chair, thanked the audience for their support and the efforts of those behind the program.
“On behalf of the board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club, thank you all for being here tonight, thank you for your continued support of the club, because it’s you that keeps the doors open,” she said. “Thank you to Stephen and all of the staff at the club, the parents that have kids in the club, thank you to our officers for serving our communities and taking care of us.”
In closing, Donica continued on to say that Mayor Gainor had said to her that January 28 was now officially CJ Williams Day in Cairo.
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