Anderson Flen has prided himself as a bridge builder in his personal and professional life. He was born in Magazine Point Alabama (Africatown) and is a 1968 graduate of Mobile County Training School (MCTS). He served in leadership roles in high school: President of the Student Government his Junior and Senior years, quarterback of the 1966 MCTS State Champions undefeated football team and co-captain of the undefeated 1968 baseball team. He was also a member of the Math and Science clubs in high school, and a member of the first Upward Bound Program at Spring Hill College in the summer of 1967. His education was directly impacted by the culture and history of the descendants of the slave ship Clotilda, founders of Africatown.
Anderson has played a foundational role in the formation of all the current community organizations in the Africatown Community, including the Mobile County Training School Alumni Association (MCTSAA). He was the first Alumni Association President of the reorganized MCTSAA and wrote its incorporation papers for its federal 501c-3 status.
Anderson played a key role in organizing the Africatown Community Development Corporation (ACDC), which was formed out of the MCTSAA. He assisted in the formation of Africatown C.H.E.S.S. which stands for Community, Health, Education, Sustainable, and Safe. He helped initiate the Africatown Connections Blueway Project with the National Park Service (NPS), as President of the MCTSAA, signing the technical assistance grant in 2016 with NPS. He is playing a role in helping to make sure the community churches begin to have the technical, educational and communication networks in place to respond better to the community and the world with their stories.
Anderson is enjoying retirement after serving 30 years in Public Health at the North Georgia Health District. In his role as Director of Health Promotions and Planning, Anderson excelled at collaborations with all levels of government and community organizations representing academia, business, non-profits, healthcare and religious institutions. His commitment to promoting and implementing best health practices for State and Federal government led him to play a critical role in bringing together all of the above stakeholders through an annual regional health educational conference that included 13 counties in the North Georgia region. Anderson created the conference to share and recognize outstanding best practices, and recognize the extraordinary efforts of the honorees. Because of his unending commitment to the community of Africatown, Mr. Flen is one of the three founders of the Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation upon its incorporation in 2019.
Major Joe Womack, born in historic Africatown, Alabama, graduated from Mobile County Training School in 1968 (the first public high school for blacks in the state of Alabama). After earning a degree in Business Administration from Saint Paul's College, Major Womack served 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, leading operations in Japan, Korea, Pensacola, FL and New Orleans, LA. In addition to working 16 years at Shell/Dupont and being the first black professional to be promoted at that chemical facility, Major Womack has initiated many locally led efforts some include: Mobile County Training School Alumni Association, Africatown Community Development Corporation, Mobile County African American Summit, Black Military Workers of America, Inc., and the Mobile County Environmental Justice Action Coalition. Major Womack is an inspiring leader in promoting positive and sustainable change and currently leads a non-profit organization called C.H.E.S.S. or Clean, Healthy, Educated, Safe & Sustainable Community, Inc.
Because of his unending commitment to the community of Africatown, Major Womack is one of the three founders of the Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation upon its incorporation in 2019.
Ruth Taylor Ballard, a nursing pioneer in the Jim Crow south, is a 1953 graduate of Mobile County Training (High) School of Plateau, Alabama. Ms. Ballard is one of seven children whose parents instilled in her and her siblings, the value of an education. Ms. Ballard made history by becoming one of nineteen blacks to graduate from the first Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Program offered by Mobile County Public School System in 1955. Prior to this time, an African American who wanted to study nursing had to travel to places like Selma, Montgomery, and Tuskegee. Few had the means or the ability to do so, and those who did were denied admitting privileges at all but one of Mobile’s hospitals. Ms. Ballard earned her Registered Nurse (RN) certification continue to practice nursing for over 40 years. Ms. Ballard worked in a number of nursing environments throughout her profession She began her career at Providence Hospital and cap stoned her nursing career as a psychiatric nurse at Searcy Hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama where she excelled and found her niche.
Ms. Ballard is a trusted, well-known, and respected leader in the Africatown Community. She is an active member of historic Union Baptist Church and supports many community events related to Africatown including the Annual Youth Kite Making Project, various community recognitions, educational programs, and historical celebrations. She is an active member of Mobile County Training School Alumni Association where she serves as membership chairperson. She is on the Board of Directors for the Africatown environmental and community organization, C.H.E.S.S.
As part of her ongoing desire that all people move towards healing, Ms. Ballard participated in the “August 2019 Day of Healing & Bell Ringing”, commemorating 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the first permanent English Colony in North America. As part of the ceremony, Ms. Ballard had the honor of releasing 110 butterflies, representing the number of enslaved persons who were illegally shipped to Mobile on the Clotilda. Because of her unending commitment to the community of Africatown, Ms. Ballard is one of the three founders of the Africatown Heritage Preservation Foundation upon its incorporation in 2019.
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