YWTSA celebrates ‘Youth Infusion’
Local residents gathered on Sunday to celebrate the 32nd Martin Luther King Jr Day at Cedartown’s Friendship Baptist Church for the 15th annual MLK Jr. “Youth” Infusion celebration.
A combination of YWTSA (Youth Working Together for a “Speedy” Awareness) members and other sponsors worked to give the MLK Jr proclamation, give out community and leadership awards, provide entertainment, and honor civil rights trailblazers.
Zoe Pasley — an honorary YWTSA ambassador and freshman at Cedartown High School — opened the Jan. 14 event by setting the occasion and reminding the congregation about King’s importance.
“On this occasion, we gather as a community to pause and reflect upon the life of a great man who changed America,” she said. “God sent him to lead his people out of bondage, just as he sent Moses to deliver the people of Israel. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Said ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in his moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of change and controversy.’ ‘Measure Up’ is our theme for this momentous occasion. Will you speak out like Frederick Douglas, learn like Booker T. Washington, help like Harriet Tubman, stay strong like Rosa Parks, inspire like May Angelou, or lead like Martin Luther King Jr.?”
Measuring up and leadership were two central themes during the event, and these qualities were kept in mind during the honoring of 2018’s civil rights trailblazer Major Estella Hammock McDermott.
“It’s an award given to an individual who has overcome the obstacles created by our nation during the post-civil rights movement,” WYTSA Executive Director Pamela Baker-King said. “These individuals are educated, and they provide services that have made a difference in the lives of others. They collaborate in the dreams of others and help make diversity possible.”
McDermott was the valedictorian of her graduating class from Cedar Hill High School in 1963. In 1967, she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics from Morris Brown College in Atlanta. Later enrolling in Georgia State University, McDermott obtained a Master’s Degree in secondary education, and her professional career began as an educator in secondary Mathematics for Muscogee County’s School System.
In 1975, McDermott enrolled in the United States Air Force Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas where she was later commissioned Second Lieutenant.
The woman worked several different divisions, reached different ranks, and worked different jobs all the while helping others. While stationed in the Philippines, she helped a local orphanage by providing birthday celebrations, small construction projects, and general moral support. McDermott reached the rank of Major later in 1990.
Until her retirement in 1995, she assumed the position of Chief Program Analysis at the Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Material Command, F- 16 Program Office Financial Management Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Retirement wasn’t the end for the hardworking woman, however, because McDermott’s off-duty hours were spent attending church, working with the Holt Street Miracle Center for the homeless, participating in the Big Handles/Little Hands tutorial program at Van Cleve School for the Arts, educating adults as Coosa Valley college (now GNTC,) working as a mental health assessor at Floyd Medical Center, and much more.
Previously honored trailblaz- ers Sarah Darden, Gladys Gipson, David Huskins, John D. Callins, and Mary Ann West Callins were recognized, and Lynn Ellis, Sergeant Vanesa Holmes, and Michael Atwater each took home awards earned from their contributions to the community.
Like the holiday, the “Youth” Infusion teaches us that excellence can be recognized regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, or religion.
“In the end, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr gave his life,” Pasley said. “But because of him, we now live his dream and must continue to preserve it for future generations.”