We are proud to announce the following events planned for the 2018 Juneteenth Celebration. Check back often as we post updates.

The 22nd Annual Al Edwards Banquet at Old Central Cultural Center on Tuesday, June 5th at 7:00PM

The speaker will be State Rep. Joe Deshotel of Beaumont, TX.

Joe represents the 22nd Legislative District, which includes parts of Jefferson and Orange Counties. He is an attorney, businessman and life-long resident of Beaumont. Deshotel has been married for 31 years to the former Claudia Darjean of Opelousas, La. He is the father of W. Joseph Deshotel.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, Deshotel served on the Beaumont City Council and was appointed by Governor Mark White to the Job Training Coordinating Council and Lamar University Board of Regents. He organized Lamar University's first NAACP chapter and helped rename the former Spur 380 to Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway. He also served as vice president for administration and legal counsel of Lamar University-Beaumont.

He is a graduate from Lamar University and received his law degree from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. His long career of public service began as a member of the Beaumont city council and he was first elected to the 76th state legislature in 1998.

After the end of the 76th Legislative Session, the Legislative Study Group, the largest caucus in the state, presented Deshotel with the Rising Star Award. The award was given to only three representatives of the 25-member freshman class and is given to honor their outstanding dedication and achievement.

In the 77th Legislative Session, his colleagues in the Texas Legislative Black Caucus elected him chairman.

In the 78th Legislative Session, Deshotel served on the House Appropriations Committee which is the budget writing arm of the House. He also served as the vice chair of local & consent calendars, the chairman of budget oversight for the House Elections Committee and on the select committee on state health care expenditures.

In the 79th Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to the House Committees on Economic Development, on Transportation and on Redistricting.

In the 80th Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to serve as chairman of the House Economic Development Committee.

"Being named chairman of economic development committee is important for East Texas," Deshotel said. "This committee assignment ensures that job creation and the increased vitalization of the local technology industry receive proper attention during the legislative process."

In the 81st Legislative Session Deshotel was appointed to serve as chairman of the House Business and Industry Committee a post he continues to hold today.

The 4th Annual Gala at Ashton Villa, Thursday, June 14th at 6:30PM our speaker will be State Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, TX

Rep. Thompson's legacy is one built from strong principles of faith, an unwavering defense of freedom, and a staunch belief in fairness. She exemplifies the American ideal that one person can make a difference. Texas native Senfronia Thompson was born in Booth, Texas and raised in Houston. She represents Northeast Houston and Humble. Dean of women legislators, Rep. Thompson has served longer in the Legislature than any other woman or African-American in Texas history. A Houston attorney, Ms. Thompson is currently serving her 20th term in the Texas House of Representatives.

Rep. Thompson has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master's degree in Education from Texas Southern University; a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and a Master's of Law in International Law from the University of Houston. Rep. Thompson has two adult children, one grandson, one granddaughter and one great-granddaughter.

Committees and Memberships
Rep. Thompson currently chairs the House Local and Consent Calendars Committee and the Women's' Health Caucus. She is co-chair of the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking. She is a member of the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee, the House Judiciary & Civil Practices Committee and the Select Committee on State Sovereignty.

She is a member of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, the Texas Legislative Council, the Democratic National Committee, Women in Government, the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative/Women (NOBEL/Women) and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Career Highlights
Rep. Thompson is the author of Texas' first-ever alimony law, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, laws banning racial profiling, the state's current minimum wage law, laws creating drug courts, the Contraceptive Parity law, the Sexual Assault Program Fund, the Model School Records Flagging Act, and scores of other reforms benefiting women, children and the elderly. She also sponsored the National Domestic Violence Hot Line, passed legislation aimed at protecting women and children against domestic violence, extended protective orders to last longer and enforceable within the entire state of Texas and fought to end sexual discrimination in the work place.

Rep. Thompson pushed through major reforms in child support enforcement including the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and the Uniform Child Custody & Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, simplified probate proceedings by passing the Durable Power of Attorney Act, and made complete overhauls of statutes dealing with statutory county courts and municipal courts. In 2005, she passed legislation requiring free testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), an early indicator of cervical cancer.

With a Republican-controlled House, Rep. Thompson passed major legislation combating human trafficking, increasing the penalty for sex offenders, obtaining insurance coverage for anti-cancer medication and banning so-called "puppy mills."

A former public school teacher and a strong believer in education, Rep. Thompson's amicus brief court she submitted on behalf of the North Forest Independent School District was cited by the Texas Supreme Court when they declared Texas' old public school finance system unconstitutional.

In 1977, Rep. Thompson used her own personal fund to convince the United States Justice Department to successfully sue Texas for discrimination in financing, hiring and admissions at Texas' traditionally Black universities, leading the way in creating a fund to improve facilities, libraries and faculty at Prairie View A & M and Texas Southern University.

Awards and Honors
In 2011, Rep. Thompson received the Patient Care Champion Care Award from the Harris County Medical Society, the Legislator of the Year Award from the Texas Family Law Foundation, a Friend of County Government Award from the Texas Association of Counties and was named one of the most outstanding legislators by Capitol Inside's first All-Decade Team for 2000s and one of the Top 10 Best Legislators by Capitol Inside and Texas Tribune, two popular online political subscriptions.

Among many other honors, Rep. Thompson is the only recipient of the Rosa Parks Award from the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and also received the Matt Garcia Award from the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. She was selected as an Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow by the Center for Public Policy Alternatives. She has been named one of Texas Monthly's "Top 10 Legislators"; and the Associated Press (AP) named her one of 6 lawmakers "Who Rocked the Legislature." She was selected one of the Top 5 House members by Gallery Watch; and Nation magazine named her one of 8 legislators in the country "who could teach Congressional Democrats."

The 39th Prayer Breakfast at Ashton Villa, Monday, June 19th at 8:30AM, will have local elected officials and ministers.

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