–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb 01, 2021
The Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced the recipients of its 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Awards. Nominations were sought for individuals whose lives demonstrate Dr. King’s call for service, peace, justice and racial equality. The three recipients openly and actively, support social justice causes, call for peace where there is conflict, serve the disenfranchised in their community, and strive for racial equality.
Bishop Daniel E. Thomas celebrated Mass to Promote Harmony on Jan. 17 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Sylvania, which concluded with the presentation of the awards. The 2021 Drum Major Awardees are Suzette Cowell, Earl D. Mack and Anita R. Madison.
As the founder of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union in 1996, Suzette Cowell has made significant contributions to economic justice for Toledo’s financially underserved Black community. Ms. Cowell’s dreams for financial parity for Blacks align with Dr. King’s in this realm.
The credit union has grown from a basement office to its own freestanding building and a branch office. When it began, its board of trustees served as volunteer staff. It now employs 12.
It is the first community credit union to open in Ohio. It faced opposition from opening from the Federal oversight body – the National Credit Union Administration, but prevailed and gained 700 members in its first year. It currently has almost 4,000 members and assets of $7.2 million. The credit union achieved a rare 4-star rating (excellent) in the fourth quarter of 2012 from Bauer Financial, a leading national bank research firm that rates banks and credit unions.
In 2004, Cowell organized Toledo’s African American Festival, which celebrated its 15th year in 2019. The 2020’s festival was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Earl Mack is a lifelong resident of the city of Toledo. and a graduate of Jesup W. Scott High School. He earned a degree in law enforcement from The University of Toledo. He and Annette Mack have been married for 49 years and are the parents of three children, two of whom survive.
Mack has nearly four decades of law enforcement experience including the Ohio Liquor Control and Ohio Homeland Security. He is a U.S. Army Veteran having served in the Vietnam War conflict.
Mack is the president of the Toledo chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers is a motorcycle club, which provides many community services, largely focused on helping children. It organizes a Veteran’s Day “Operation Shut-In Meal Delivery,” Christmas Angel Tree and other charitable causes across the region.
Last year, the Toledo Buffalo Soldiers provided coronavirus kits and school supplies for the community during a voter registration event. A recent initiative is their “What To Do When Stopped By The Police Workshop” held for children in partnership with the Junction Coalition, Restorative Justice Program and TPD’s Community Service Section.
Anita Madison is the proud mother of Brandon and Tonielle, and grandmother to their five children. She received her high school diploma from Jesup W. Scott High School in 1977 and earned a BA degree in commercial art from The Ohio State University. She holds a BA and Master’s degrees in criminal justice from Phoenix University. Currently, she works as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at the University of Toledo.
Madison is a lifelong member of People’s Missionary Baptist Church where she serves as the administrative assistant to the pastor. She is actively involved in several community organizations including: STRIVE- a summer youth camp, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is the vice president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and is a coordinator of the Toledo district voter registration of the Ohio Unity Coalition.
Though Madison retired from law enforcement after 30 years of service, she volunteers for numerous causes including community coordinator for the Toledo Police Department community review board and vice chair to the Police Reform Task Force. She also leads a program sponsored by the African American Police League, which mentors and assists applicants of color and other applicants through the TPD hiring process. Many of those applicants have become TPD officers.