Selma-Dallas County Leadership Class XXI holds graduation

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Members of the Selma-Dallas County Leadership Class XXI pose for a photo before their graduation ceremony at Wallace Community College Selma Monday night. --Alaina Denean Deshazo

Members of the Selma-Dallas County Leadership Class XXI pose for a photo before their graduation ceremony at Wallace Community College Selma Monday night. –Alaina Denean Deshazo

Another class has come and gone as Leadership Selma-Dallas County Class XXI graduated from the program Monday night at a banquet held at Wallace Community College Selma. 

Glenn King Jr., president of the Selma-Dallas County Leadership board of directors said this class was one of the most diverse classes that have been through the program.

“This class has been very interesting. They are very interesting because they come from various backgrounds,” King said.

“They come from a broad mixture of occupations and they come together as one to provide positive social change for Selma-Dallas County.”

King describes leadership as a way of getting diverse people, like class XXI, together to make a difference in the community.

“The leadership program is basically a program that is designed to bring various people from various cultural backgrounds, as well as educational backgrounds as well as political backgrounds to an open environment where they can learn the aspects of Selma-Dallas County, the things that take place in Selma-Dallas County as well as its resources,” he said.

“I hope they render positive social change to Selma-Dallas County. That’s my hope and that’s my dream, to make Selma better than what it is today.”

Graduation means leaving the class behind, but not the participants.

“[Leadership graduation] is very exciting because once the participants receive this knowledge, they can then go out and share it with other people to make Selma-Dallas County better,” King said.

“It’s a happy moment, it’s a bittersweet moment, but it’s a happy moment knowing that we have impoured knowledge into current leaders and they’re going to go out making Selma-Dallas County better.”

The guest speaker for the night was Beatrice M. Forniss, a division chief at the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Forniss is a native of Mobile and a graduate of Alabama State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and library sciences and a master’s degree in counseling.

“This is what I want you to do,” Forniss told the graduates in her speech.

“I want you to create an inspired vision for the future of Selma. … I don’t want you all to die, and Selma will still look the same.”

Forniss gave those in attendance her 10 tips for being a better leader and told them “motivate” and “inspire” people in the community.

“Lead by example, humility, communicate effectively, keep meetings productive, know your limits, find a mentor, be emotionally aware, watch out, learn from the past and never stop improving,” she said of her 10 tips.

“You are leaders. What’s your vision for the future?”

Each of the 20 participants gave a short speech about their experience in the class and what the class meant to them. The speeches brought out tears for some of the participants, both happy and sad, but as each member took the podium, their classmates encouraged them and applauded them for their speech.

Briana Westry, a member of class XXI, said she was grateful for the experience.

“I love you all and I’m glad to have had this experience,” Westry said.

“We just have to take what we learned and use it in the future.”

When David Snider took the podium, he had to get one thing out of the way — a selfie.

He used the picture as a way of explaining that in his photo, he had many of his classmates behind him, and said the picture will remind him that he always has those people behind him after graduation.

“The one thing that I didn’t know [about Selma] is there were 21 other people in this community that wanted the best for Selma just like I did,” Snider said.

“Its time for us to roll out selves us and forget the past, and recognize that love is going to change this community. Not black things and not white things, but loving each other because we were loved first.”

Carrie Bearden opened up with explaining how she wasn’t too excited about the program at first, but said later that she is glad to have had the opportunity.

“We have driven all over this county and I think I have learned more about it than I’ve ever learned about it in my 22 years that I’ve lived here,” Bearden said.

“I think that what I’ve learned the most is just about myself and my relationship with other people. These are some fabulous people and some great leaders.”

Twanda Moorer said that she is looking forward to the future with her classmates and she knows that they are going to help push Selma in the right direction.

“My Leadership class XXI will continue to do whatever we can to help Selma grow,” Moorer said.

“As a team, let’s get busy, make sure our goals for class XXI become professionally networked. I thank God for each and every one of you.”