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Honoring 45 Years of Community Service

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING 45 YEARS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 14, 2004)

MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2004

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Junior Matrons of Morristown, New Jersey in my Congressional District who this year are celebrating their 45th Anniversary.

In 1959, the Junior Matrons of Morristown began with a group of twelve young African-American women who pooled their time and resources to found a working group to address one of the critical issues facing African-American youth-low numbers of high school graduates going on to pursue post-secondary education.

Their motto became "service through scholarship," and the group began working to increase opportunities for black youth to attend college. A lack of cultural and historical precedent among African-Americans, the difficulty in financing college education and the limited track record of admissions of black high school graduates to major colleges and universities, were just a few of the obstacles confronting young African-Americans who may have wanted to attend college at the time. When the twelve young black women of the Junior Matrons of Morristown got together, they decided they would take direct action to change this scenario.

In a bold move, they decided to host an annual cotillion that would serve at least three purposes: (1) it would help raise the consciousness of the African-American community about education as a vehicle for pursuing economic, political and social advancement; (2) it would recognize and reward those who remained committed to achieving their first major educational milestone and (3) through personal, corporate, agency and organizations contributions, it would generate substantive funds needed to encourage and enable high school students to translate the dream of a college education into a reality.

The passion and energy behind the founding of the Junior Matrons has continued unabated for these last 45 years, and is a credit to the collective vision of these twelve charter members: The late Sue Graddick, Harriet Britt, the late Frances Younginer, my dear friend Dr. Felicia B. Jamison, Emma L. Martin, Nancy Yett, Muriel Hiller, Nadine Alston, the late Emanualine Smith, Natalie Holmes, the late Marie Davis, the late Natalie Thurmond Lattimore and Cecelia Dowdy.

Over the years the Junior Matrons have been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League, among many others. As a testimony of the enduring idealism of these inspired women, the Junior Matrons of Morristown have provided financial assistance to over 3,000 high school students, and has dispensed over $2 million over its lifetime. The beneficial and residual impact of this assistance cannot be over-estimated. Although a few of the original group are no longer with us, new leaders have taken on the mantle and are endowed with the same zeal and vision.

Mr. Speaker, I am quite certain that the Junior Matrons will continue in the years ahead to promote the cause of quality education and help provide opportunities for our young people to pursue college degrees and productive, fulfilling careers. I ask you and my colleagues to join me in congratulating the Junior Matrons of Morristown as they celebrate 45 dedicated years of serving our community.

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