Hamilton County Commission Black History Month honorees include: (top, left to right) Bernadette Watson, Courtis J. Fuller, the Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr., (bottom, left to right) Derrick Braziel, Jenifer Moore, and Linda Childs-Jeter. Photos provided
By Bridget Doherty
Hamilton County Commissioners honored six local African American civic leaders for their contributions to a more equitable and inclusive Hamilton County. As part of the celebration of Black History Month, commissioners recognized the honorees during a virtual Commission meeting on February 11.
The honorees are:
The Reverend Damon Lynch Jr. is a pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, a position he has held since 1970. Lynch is the former president of the Baptist Ministers Conference, has been an instructor in preaching, was the first president of the Pastors Conference of Greater Cincinnati, is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a member of the Medical Review Board of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and many other boards. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Housing Opportunities Made Equal and City Gospel Mission. He is a strong soldier for equality and justice, and he started the first Martin Luther King March along with Virginia Coffey, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Charlene Ventura.
Courtis Fuller is an Emmy award winning veteran broadcast journalist whose broadcasting career has spanned more than 40 years with most of that spent as a news anchor in Cincinnati for the NBC affiliate WLWT-TV. He was named one of Cincinnati’s Men of Honor and was once selected “Cincinnati’s Favorite TV Personality” by the Broadcast Hall of Fame. He has received hundreds of awards for his excellence in journalism and his tireless community service. He led the effort to have the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Reds honor the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s entrance into Major League Baseball. He is a sought-after speaker and host for dozens of events throughout Hamilton County and has helped raise millions of dollars for organizations by volunteering his time. He established a scholarship in his name in 2010 to help young aspiring journalists achieve their goals.
Linda Childs-Jeter of the Village of Lincoln Heights. She is a retired educator, foster parent and business owner. She started working in the family grocery store at an early age. She began her professional career by teaching at Courter Tech, Withrow and Norwood High School Adult Education. She is a councilmember for the Village of Lincoln Heights. Her focus is on being a voice for the community, educating our children, providing safety, and promoting economic development. She is an advocate for healthcare for the underserved, uninsured, and underinsured. Her community engagement includes recycling, voter education, and voter registration.
Bernadette Watson has been in administration for 40 plus years. Her experience includes serving as the president of the Cincinnati Avondale Community Council, community liaison for former Vice Mayor Minette Cooper and working as community and legislative liaison for Mayor Charlie Luken. Within nine months of taking that position, she was promoted to the mayor’s chief of staff; serving as the first African American chief of staff for a directly elected mayor in the City of Cincinnati for five years. She served as the public information officer for the Cincinnati Health Department’s Office of Community Advocacy before retiring from the City of Cincinnati in 2007. Prior to her entrance into the political realm, she worked in the mental health field for 15 years.
Jenifer Moore is an accomplished communications and public relations professional with more than nine years of expertise in developing and executing all aspects of public outreach campaigns to increase media exposure and support strategic marketing initiatives. She has communications expertise in a wide-range of industries including: state government, political affairs, transportation, travel, traffic safety, and non-profit community affairs and throughout her career, she has been successful in establishing and maintaining media relationships, managing multiple projects and shifting priorities in a fast-paced work environment. She has a deep love for the arks and has participated in a multitude of arts-focused programs and initiatives. Moore is a member of the Cincinnati Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Greater Cincinnati Black Public Relations Professionals, Cincinnati Chapter of Public Relations Society of America, and the Hamilton County Commission on Women and Girls.
Derrick Braziel drew inspiration from Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and others who spoke of how entrepreneurship and business development could uplift and liberate Black descendants of slaves. Braziel, along with co-founders William Thomas and Allen Woods, started MORTAR in 2014 to help Black and Brown entrepreneurs start and grow businesses in their communities, leveraging the power of entrepreneurship to create opportunities and build and inclusive model for neighborhood redevelopment and economic growth. He worked with the African American Chamber of Commerce, The Cincinnati Microenterprise Institute to launch the PUSH Grant Program which helped minority-owned businesses weather the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and served as a vice chair of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s 2020-21 campaign which raised over $50 million during the pandemic to support the United Way’s efforts to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. He left MORTAR to start his own business. As co-owner of Pate Roja Tacos, Derrick is drawing on his frequent travels and passion for the street food of Mexico City to share his delicious tacos to Cincinnati and Hamilton County.