Hardy Brown, Sr.
My last communication with Woodie was by email in May, when I sent her a letter thanking her and the NAACP for honoring me with the Roy Wilkins Courage Award. I told her I was praying for her and that God was steadfast and immovable in his love for her and the community she loved so much.
My relationship with Woodie goes back a long way, beginning with the Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) Chapter where she served as Executive Director.
I had spoken with Woodie only a few times until 1986, when the late Reverend Leon Sullivan was brought to the OIC Office at her request and she invited Cheryl and I to attend.
In her role at OIC, Woodie had trained 800 graduates over a seven-year period and all of them were gainfully employed. She had 55 in training to become correctional officers and 12 studying to enter the field of heating and air conditioning repair.
When Sullivan came for his visit, he said the apartheid campaign was important but meeting those who had completed the job training program was the reason he came to Riverside, as stated in an article that appeared in The Sun.
This was the kind of impact Woodie made in this community. A lot of people “talk the talk,” but Woodie “walked the walked.”
She then went on to do the thing as a member of the NAACP by building an active executive committee and she trained new leaders throughout Southern California. I was a recipient of her leadership training.
She elevated the image of the local branch of the NAACP throughout the community as evidenced by the sold-out attendance at the annual Freedom Fund Dinner.
I often consulted with her regarding issues in the Riverside community by visiting with her at her school office. As a school board member in San Bernardino we had education-related reasons to meet, she would say.
The latest Freedom Fund Dinner of being “Steadfast and Immovable, Can’t Stop-Won’t Stop” was very right-on for her as a leader in the Inland Empire. Her faith was “Steadfast and Immovable” because she served a living God, who is true to His word.
She is physically gone from us, but her works will live forever with us.