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“Visions of Hope” presents 4th annual Black History Month Celebration

Award Recipients: Awardees from left to right: Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt; Bill Simms; Issac Garrett; Tony Jackson; Wendy Sims-Moten; Front row from left to right: Naomi D. Smith; Nannie E. Wilkins; Catherine J. Vines; Pastor Rino Dittilo and Founder Phillip Pipersburg (Photo Credit: Gary L. Harbour)

Visions of Hope, a non-profit organization, held its 4th annual Worship & Celebration Service at the Marjorie Luke Theater in Santa Barbara on Sunday, January 26. This year’s theme, “A Tribute to Civil Rights in America”, paid special tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

“We want to take a step forward in working as a unit with members of our community,” said founder Philip Pipersburg. “We want everyone to worship together. Dr. King gave his life so that we could one day worship together.”

The program featured David Moore, Jr., pastor New Covenant Worship Center as the guest speaker and Beryl Smith Alexander as Mistress of Ceremony.

There were a variety of choirs and musical guest performers. Special guest Mrs. Wilkes was honored posthumously by Rev. Patsy Thorp, who also sang “I won’t Complain” on her behalf.

The program continued with honoring eight African Americans: Isaac Garrett, Tony Jackson, Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt, Wendy Sims Moten, Bill Simms, Naomi Smith, Nannie Wilkins, and Catherine J. Vines. The honorees raged from high school teachers to public defenders to community activists. The honorees were chosen for their contributions to the civil rights movement and for uplifting their communities in various fashions.

Husband and wife — Philip and Lillian Pipersburg, founded the nonprofit in 2010 to express faith, glorify God, and promote a just and humane society. They partnered with 16 churches and organizations throughout the county in an attempt to desegregate worship and “bring black, brown, white, everybody under one umbrella.”

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