The African American Leadership Society (AALS) of United Way of Anderson County provides guidance to cultivate leadership in the African American community to ensure a diverse voice in efforts that address community needs. The leadership council of AALS consists of volunteers, representative of the African American community.
On February 3, 2017, at the Hilton Garden Inn, the AALS will host its first Black History Ball. This event will be a sit-down dinner, Black Tie Affair with live music and dancing. Guest speaker will be Jil Littlejohn, President/CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate and City Council Member - Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Greenville, SC. During the evening, three awards will be presented to recognize leadership in the African American community.
Justus Cox will be presented with The Emerging Leader Community Award. Justus is a 4th grade teacher at Monaview Elementary School in Greenville. While a student in the Education Department at Anderson University he was a part of the Call Me Mister Program. He was one of the leaders of the Call Me Mister summer camp they had with the group - Silent Victims of Crime - children whose parents are incarcerated - this past summer. He created a community outreach group called CONNECT at AU in 2014. The group focuses on promoting diversity and service to the community. Numerous students from all backgrounds are part of the group and it is going strong even though he graduated this past December. He is also part of a mentoring program called Straight Up at New Beginnings Church in Anderson. He was awarded The Outstanding College Student Award in 2016 and he was also awarded the 2016 Upstate Diversity Leadership Award.
Laneika Musalini is the recipient of The Community Trailblazer Award. Laneika was born and raised in Anderson, SC. She graduated from T.L. Hanna High School and went on to Tri-County Technical College. Laneika worked and paid her way through school graduating magna cum laude from Anderson University and later Clemson University with a master’s degree and highest honor distinction. She later received a grant writing certificate from USC-Columbia. Mrs. Musalini is the founder and president of Women's Empowerment, Inc., founded in 2010. The mission of Women's Empowerment, Inc. is to empower women of all races to be strong, positive role models and community leaders. Through her organization, she hosts the annual Women's Empowerment Conference in which there have been over 1,850 participants. She is one of the major leaders in her Leadership Anderson class to help bring about a Career Closet for Anderson 5 Career Center once she learned that students didn't have appropriate clothing to wear to interview. Laneika also is on the Board of Regents for the JLA (Junior Leadership Anderson) program where she helps to determine the sessions and bring these students together so they can learn about each other's similarities and embrace each other's differences. Among various other awards and distinctions, in 2016, Laneika was honored as an Upstate Black History Maker by 107.3 JAMZ and Cox Radio for her many valuable contributions to her community and the upstate of South Carolina. Laneika has served on the Anderson University Alumni Association Board since 2011 where she is currently the president. In addition, Musalini is a Duke Energy/Clemson University Center for Workforce Development STEM Innovator Award recipient 2013, YWCA of Greenville Women of Achievement Dream Achiever Award recipient 2012, Clemson University College of Business & Behavioral Science Team Player Award recipient 2012, Clemson University Board of Trustees Staff Excellence Award recipient 2002 and 2012, featured in Clemson World Magazine (Spring 2012 and January 2016) 2012 and 2016, Anderson Independent Mail ‘20 under 40’ Emerging Leaders in Anderson County Award recipient 2011, and Clemson University Black Faculty & Staff Award of Merit recipient 2008
The Community Legacy Award will be presented to Rev. Dr. James O Rich. Dr. Rich served as the Pastor of St. Paul’s Baptist Church from 1960 – 2007 and is currently Pastor Emeritus of the church. The Rev. James O. Rich Education Center is named in his honor. Rich, a Sumter native who served 47 years as St. Paul pastor, is a past president of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina, and served as president of the South Carolina Congress of Christian Education. Dr. Rich was married to the late Arabella Hester Rich, and he is the father of two children, Stanley L. (Phyllis Ward) Rich, Anderson, SC, and Stephanie R. Rich, Dallas TX. He also has one grandson, Stanford A. Rich, Grayson, GA. Dr. Rich received his Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1955. He also has a Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity (Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse School of Religion, Atlanta, GA) Honorary Doctor of Divinity (Morris College). Dr. Rich received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Morris College in May 1975 due to his distinguished leadership, locally and nationally, being a dynamic preacher, organizer, teacher, and administrator; humanist, articulate spokesman for Christian ideals both to adults and youth.
Dr. Rich has served on the Board of Trustees; as a former Teacher of Religious Studies; and also as a former Dean of the School of Religion at Morris College. He initiated the O. R. Ruben Church Center Project to build a center for Theological Education on the campus. He initiated Baptist Day with a Miss Baptist Contest to raise funds for the O. R. Reuben Church Center Project. Dr. Rich initiated various fund raising events in order to help Morris College become the renowned college that it is today. Due to his and his wife’s fundraising efforts two buildings on campus have been honored with their names.
He has served as Trustee and Board Member for the following denominational schools: Morris College, Friendship Junior College, Benedict College, and Morehouse School of Religion, Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Rich was the First African American Candidate for Anderson City Council.( Ward 5, 1964). He was a Member of the Governor’s Committee on Infant and Child Health, initiated teen pregnancy prevention activities, culminating in a grant of $180,000 from the Ford Foundation. He established the Baptist Education & Missionary Convention’s Commission on Political Action, as well as Baptist Educational and Missionary Services, Inc., “to provide elderly persons and the handicapped with housing facilities and services especially designed to meet their physical, social and psychological needs…” which led to the construction of Baptist Village, a 60-unit Apartment Complex located in Anderson, SC. In addition to his many honors, he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto Award, Office of the Governor of South Carolina; The Jefferson Award, sponsored by WYFF-TV, Greenville, SC; Pointing The Way Award, Anderson Independent-Mail Newspaper, Anderson, SC; Proclamations and Resolutions from both the City and County of Anderson, SC; and The Presidential Award, SC Baptist Congress of Christian Education, Columbia, SC.
There will also be live music and dancing after the dinner and awards presentation part of the Ball. The event is being sponsored by Kroger Anderson Bakery; JusDean Wardrobe Consulting Services, LLC; Urban League of the Upstate; Diversity Inclusion Consulting Inc.; African American Leadership Council Founders; Rocky River Baptist Association; McDonald’s; Tri-County Technical College; and Summit Media Corps/WJMZ 107.3.
Tickets are still available to purchase for the event at $60 each. To purchase tickets, visit www.unitedwayofanderson.org or call the United Way office at 226-3438.