On Monday, June 26, 2017, the Coastal Georgia Council Boy Scouts of America held its annual Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award Luncheon to benefit their Scoutreach and Exploring programs for local youth. The luncheon was held at Woodville Tompkins High School, and Luncheon Chair Person, Ms. Edna Jackson, former City of Savannah Mayor presented four individuals with the Whitney M Young, Jr. Award for their tireless dedication to youth leadership and character development, Reverend Matthew Southhall Brown, Sr., Dr. Lester B. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., Dr. J. Alphonso Dandy, O.D., and Dr. Otis S. Johnson, Ph.D. One honoree, Dr. Lester B Johnson, Jr. holds the distinction of being Savannah’s first African-American Eagle Scout.
Reverend Matthew Southhall Brown, Sr. Pastor Emeritus Matthew Southhall Brown, Sr., was born in Savannah on July 16, 1926. As a youngster, he attended East Broad Street Elementary School, and Cuyler Beach High School. Rev. Matthew S. Brown became the pastor of St. John Baptist Church, ‘The Mighty Fortress” in 1969, serving as the church’s leader from 1969–2005. Reverend Brown worked with Deacon John Delaware at First African Baptist Church to develop Cub and Boy Scout units at both First African Baptist Church and St. John the Baptist Church, which were among the first African American Scout troops in Savannah.
Dr. J. Alphonso Dandy, O.D., was born May 6, 1941 in Lake City, Fl. He graduated from Bethune-Cookman College (now University) in 1962 with a BS degree in biology. Graduating from Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1972 with a Doctor of Optometry degree, Dr. Dandy moved to Savannah where he practiced Optometry as the first African-American optometrist in Savannah. After 32 years of practice, he retired in 2004. He now holds the position of administrator at Antioch Medical Associates and President of Dandy Youth Development Corporation, a non-profit corporation that he founded to promote the leadership development of African-American males at A.E. Beach High School by providing mentoring, workshops, tutorials, internship opportunities and scholarship incentives.
Dr. Lester B. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., the first African
American youth to attain the rank of Eagle Scout in Savannah, was born in Savannah and attended Savannah Chatham Public Schools. He graduated from A. E. Beach High School in 1944 and in 1949 was employed to teach industrial arts and mathematics at Beach High School. Following receipt of his doctoral degree, Lester began teaching at Savannah State University in 1969. He was appointed chairman of the Department of Engineering Technology in 1973.
Dr. Otis S. Johnson, Ph.D. is a Life Scout. Otis Samuel Johnson served as Mayor of Savannah from 2004-2012. Dr. Johnson graduated from A.E. Beach High School in 1960, Armstrong Junior College in 1964 (the first African American to graduate from that school) and the University of Georgia in 1967. Following receipt of his doctoral degree and before becoming Mayor, Johnson worked for the Economic Opportunity Authority, Model Cities Program and Savannah State University, and served as the City Council Representative from the second district. He then became Executive Director of the Chatham Savannah Youth Futures Authority.
ABOUT THIS AWARD: The purpose of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award is to recognize outstanding services by an adult individual or an organization for demonstrated involvement in the development and implementation of Scouting opportunities for youth from rural or low-income urban backgrounds This is in fulfillment of Dr. Young’s dream of justice and equality for all.