Voices of Women Event, Loud-Clear
By Andrea Comer / Inquiring News
Hartford, CT – ( Special Honor to Hartford’s Trude Mero ‘Urban Royalty’) -
Knowing she would be unable to attend the 2013 Voices of Women of Color’s Trailblazers Award ceremony, Trude Johnson Mero asked her nephew Lew Brown to accept her award for lifetime achievement. She also asked him to share something with the 200 people in attendance.
“Trude asked me to read this for her,” said Brown, who informed attendees that the North Hartford matriarch was recovering from surgery. As he read from the paper, the nods and smiles spoke volumes. “Well son, I’ll tell you. Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair…”
Indeed. Mero, who came to Hartford in 1948, has been a staunch advocate for community empowerment for decades. Whether standing by the side of her husband Wilfred “Spike” Johnson as he became the first African American ever elected to the Connecticut General Assembly, organizing Project Concern, the first voluntary desegregation program in the country, or ensuring access for minority contractors on the Adriaen’s Landing project, Mero has never shied away from a fight.
“Mama Trude has been a mentor, adviser and in some ways parent,” said Janice Flemming, CEO of the Voices. “Her imprint and her influence have touched so many areas of our community, and it was an honor to recognize her contributions and give something to someone who has given so much to others.”
Mero’s place in Connecticut history has been solidified for years. The family home on Tower Avenue was even proposed as a site along the Connecticut Freedom Trail.
Born in the segregated South just a few years before the Great Depression, Mero spoke years ago about not having a birth certificate and attending a segregated college in New Jersey. She was determined that her children, in fact all African American children, would know their identity and benefited from the educational exposure that reflected the world “beyond their porch.”
In addition to Mero, the Voices of Women of Color also acknowledged: Dr. Jewell Mullen, State Commissioner of the Department of Public Health; Dr. Michael Sharpe, CEO, Family Urban Schools of Excellence; Dr. Donna Marcano, Trinity College Professor; Butch Lewis, founder of the first Hartford Black Panther Party; Rep. Brandon McGee, 5th District; Steve Harris, former Councilman; Dorothy McCalop, elderly services advocate. In addition, community service awards were presented to youth Naji Stapleton and Paris Banks, and a Founders Award was given to NaKeisha Searcy.