Alabama’s Hidden History: February 2023 honorees
WVUA 23 and the Murphy African American Museum are honoring Alabamians who have made a difference every day in February. Profiles of Alabama Hidden History is sponsored by BankFirst.
Feb. 23: Khadijah Torbert
Khadijah Torbert works at West AlabamaWorks, the workforce component of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. She actively serves her community by volunteering at Temporary Emergency Services and is a mentor with Mind Changers, Inc., and is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Feb. 22: Kool-Aid McKinstry
Kool-Aid McKinstry is a Birmingham native and a current leader of the Crimson Tide football team. He earned first team All-American honors from Pro Football Focus and Sporting News and has also won the Commitment to Academic Excellence and Defensive Achievement awards.
Feb. 21: Rodney Cooper
Coming out of high school, Rodney Cooper ranked among the top 50 basketball players in the country. Although he had many Division 1 offers, he picked the University of Alabama and played there from 2011 to 2015. Cooper is now the founder and CEO of a sports drink company.
Feb. 20: Terrance Whittle
Terrance Whittle is the Director of Athletics and head baseball coach at Stillman College. While he’s been coaching for nearly 30 years, Whittle still considers himself a teacher, menor and servant leader.
He’s a member of the Black College Sports and Education Foundation and is also committed to ending hunger and food insecurity in West Alabama.
Feb. 19: Dr. John Giggie
Dr. John Giggie is an associate professor and director of the University of Alabama’s Summersell Center for the Study of the South. He’s the creator of History of Us, the first Black history class taught in Alabama’s public schools. He’s also the director of Alabama Memory, an effort that seeks to remember the lives lost to lynching.
Giggie is a founding member of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation.
Feb. 18: Celletrius Sanders
Celletrius Sanders is currently employed as a pharmacy operations manager at Walgreens, where she’s worked for 15 years. She’s dedicated herself to serving the local community by volunteering in Tuscaloosa City Schools, is a PTA president and a volunteer Girl Scouts leader.
Feb. 17: Pastor Mike Paciello
Pastor Mike Paciello continues to labor for the unity of Black and white churches. He ministers in the Bibb County Correctional Facility, Tuscaloosa County Jail and the Tuscaloosa Juvenile Detention Center.
He’s traveled as far as Uganda and Rwanda to minister in prisons. After George Floyd was killed, Paciello led a racially sensitive seminar for the Tuscaloosa and Northport police departments, and Paciello prays for a day when churches are no longer labeled Black or white.
Feb. 16: Fayetta Little
Fayetta Little has a passion for learning and teaching. She’s spent nearly 20 years in education and currently serves as principal of Crestmont Elementary School. As a leader, Little is committed to student achievement and ensuring her children are prepared for the next chapter in their lives.
Feb. 15: John Teasley
Coach John Teasley is head basketball coach at Stillman College, where he ranks third-fastest in active coaches. His team recently won a conference title and three regular season championships.
Teasley has been head coach at Stillman since 2017.
Feb. 14: Kristen Bobo
Kristen Bobo is the adult education director at Shelton State Community College, where she guides and mentors adults entering higher education.
Most of all, Bobo enjoys connecting people with their community and helping them find their purpose.
Feb. 13: Corey and Katherine Waldon
Corey Waldon is a physical education teacher and the owner of Waldon Media. His wife, Katherine, is the chief programmatic officer at Five Horizons Health Services. Together, they created Lift Alabama, which offers a free after-school program and summer activities for students in middle and high school.
Feb. 12: Norvie Womack
Norvie Woman taught physical education and coached basketball for 20 years, and he continues mentoring young men and women by teaching them how they can become productive citizens on and off the court. Womack also serves young adults as the educational consultant for the 2023 National Youth Sports Alliance and is on the board of trustees at Hunter Chapel AME Zion Church.
Feb. 11: Latanya Lapsley
Latanya Lapsley received her degree in nursing in 2021, and throughout her career she’s worked in several areas of medicine, including as a travel surgical nurse. She attends church at Christ Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, where she serves as a youth leader.
Feb. 10: Capt. Anthony Smith
Capt. Anthony Smith has 34 years of sworn service to his country and community, with 10 of those years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He’s a graduate of Druid High School, Livingston University and the University of Alabama’s Law Enforcement Academy. He currently serves as commander of the juvenile division for the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
Feb. 9: Rev. Camisha Thomas
Rev. Camisha Thomas has been a pastor for nearly 20 years and currently serves as pastor of Tabernacle AME Zion Church. She’s also the mental health coordinator and community liaison at the Tuscaloosa County Probate Office, and has been involved with Tuscaloosa’s youth for many years. Her passion is mentoring children and teens.
Feb. 8: Dr. Ronnie Jackson
Dr. Ronnie Jackson currently serves as the assistant director of admissions at the University of Alabama School of Law. He is also the cofounder and program coordinator of the National Social Work Enrichment Program, which provides a six-week summer campus experience for children in foster care. Jackson has inspired hundreds of children in foster care to graduate high school and enroll in college.
Feb. 7: Marshae Madison-Pelt
Marshae Madison-Pelt serves as the at-risk coordinator for Greene County Schools and was instrumental in establishing the Black Belt STEM Enrichment Program, which serves seventh- through 12th-graders from Hale, Tuscaloosa, Sumter and Greene counties. She is currently seeking her doctorate from Samford University.
Feb. 6: Thaddeus Steele
The Rev. Dr. Thaddeus Steele is pastor of Hunter Chapel AME Zion Church in Tuscaloosa. He also serves as a marketing instructor and member of the Upward Bound program at Stillman College, is on the board of directors of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation, is director of the Thriving Ministry Initiative and CEO of Power Place.
Feb. 5: Dr. M. Sebrena Jackson
Dr. M. Sebrena Jackson is a trailblazer in social work, co-founding and directing the National Social Work Enrichment Program. Through her leadership, practice and research, hundreds of teens who aged out of foster care are getting a college education. Jackson is an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Alabama.
Feb 4: Russell Gold
Russell Gold is an associate professor of law at the University of Alabama who also serves as an adviser for the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History and Reconciliation Foundation. Gold is also involved in Alabama Civil Rights and the Civil Liberties Law Review. He’s a graduate of Arizona State University and received his law degree from George Washington University
Feb. 3: Officer Princess Norwood
Officer Princess Norwood has served for seven years as an officer with the Tuscaloosa Police Department. She also serves as director for the Tuscaloosa Police Athletic League and volunteers as a mentor at Brewer-Porch Children’s Center. She has a huge passion for helping children and is a foster parent.
Feb. 2: Donny Jones
Donny Jones is the chief operating officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the executive director of West AlabamaWorks, which helps prepare residents for new jobs or new careers.
Jones is also a deacon at Five Points Baptist Church in Northport. He is married and has two children.
Feb. 1: Joqueline Richardson
Jocqueline Richardson began her music career at 12 by playing piano in church. Since then, she’s spent more than 35 years teaching music and has distinguished herself as one of the most notable choral directors in the Southeast. She currently serves as director of choral activities at Stillman College. Richardson is a Tuscaloosa native and previously taught in Tuscaloosa City Schools.