BY VALADA FLEWELLYN, GUEST WRITER TO THE TIMES
CELEBRATION – The Central Florida Dorothy Turner Johnson Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) celebrated its Founder’s Day, September 17, 1915, along with the fifth anniversary of the local branch, founded on September 15, 2017.
ASALH is the premiere organization for the research, preservation, and dissemination of African American History. The founder is Dr. Carter J. Woodson, known as the father of Black History and the founder of Negro History Week, in 1926, now celebrated nationally as Black History Month.
A special program to celebrate Founder’s Day was held in Celebration, Florida, the hometown of the branch’s namesake, Dorothy Turner Johnson, at the Community Presbyterian Church.
The branch honored its founder, Karen Adamopoulos, with its very first Founder’s Day Award. The award recognizes her founding of the branch in 2017, re-activating the defunct Central Florida branch, founded by Dorothy Turner Johnson in 2002. Adamopoulos named the re-activated branch in Johnson’s honor. During her five years as president of the Central Florida DTJ Branch, the organization held educational forums that included a program at Seminole County College featuring retired astronaut Wendall Scott. ASALH partners with its institutional members and other organization to educate the public on matters concerning
Dorothy Turner Johnson was the first resident to move into Celebration, Florida, the town constructed by Disney, in 2002. A retired librarian, she founded the town’s first library.
During World War II, she joined the Women Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), which later became the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). She was a member of the first Black female battalion to go oversea. The “Six Triple-Eight” battalion was assigned the task of getting mail that had been delayed, due to the Cold War, to the troops overseas. The battalion was given six months to complete the mission, however, they finished it in half the time. Their efforts boosted the morale of the soldiers and aided in winning the war. The famed 6888 battalion was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
Founder Day in Celebration brought together Dorothy’s neighbors in Celebration with the Founding members of the ASALH branch bearing her name. Lots of fond memories of the educator who has inspired many through her love of art, music and reading, were shared. Memoires of Dorothy linked two communities, Celebration and Central Florida, around her legacy and celebrated the organization committed to keeping stories like that of Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Dorothy Turner Johnson, alive!
To learn more about The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, visit www.asalh.org and www.dtjasalh.org