Three recognized at 2015 Unity Honors luncheon - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Three recognized at 2015 Unity Honors luncheon

Amrita Banks Amrita Banks
Bob Bruce Bob Bruce
Darnell Thomas Darnell Thomas

From the City of Longview:

The 2015 Unity Honors luncheon honored people who have been leaders in the pursuit of social justice and racial equality and have helped improve relations in our community. Honorees this year are Ms. Armatha Banks, Reverend Bob Bruce and Reverend Darnell Thomas.

Mrs. Banks was instrumental in promoting integration in the city of Longview through sit-ins, picketing and bus rides. And years of dedicated work to voter registration, Neighborhood Crime Watch, and Unity and Diversity (formerly Race Relations). Reverend Bruce, former pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and Reverend Thomas, former pastor at McCabe United Methodist Church, are perhaps best known for organizing the first Longview City-wide Martin Luther King Celebration. Rev. Bruce was also instrumental in forming Longview Habitat for Humanity and Longview Community Ministries in Longview. Rev. Thomas was very influential in East Texas as a Civil Rights activist.

City of Longview liaison, Keeta King said, “We look forward to this time of year as another opportunity to highlight our communities, peacemakers, unifiers and selfless servers. This year we have the privilege to highlight three very deserving honorees who have served as leaders in the promotion of social justice, trust and harmony.” The event will take place at Maude Cobb Convention Center, 11:30-1 p.m. on January 29, 2015.

About the Honorees:

Ms. Amrita Barryer-Banks is one of six siblings born in Beckville, TX to the late Fred and Gertie Deckard-Barryer. She received a Bachelor's Degree from Texas College in Home Economics and later furthered her studies in New York, New York. She is the proud mother of one daughter, Freddie Banks-Williams and three grandchildren. Ms. Banks has worked for New York Public Schools, Beckman Hospital, Dallas Medical & Surgical Center, Garland I.S.D. and retired from the Dallas I.S.D. She is a faithful member of St. Mark Christian Methodist Episcopal Church where she worked diligently with the Sunday school department, missionaries, and various other departments. Ms. Banks has worked with the NAACP since age 17 and was instrumental in promoting integration in the city of Longview through sit-ins, picketing and bus rides. Ms. Banks has always been active in the community, working through the years with voter registration, Neighborhood Crime Watch, and Unity and Diversity Committee (formerly Race Relations).

Reverend Bob Bruce is one of three brothers born and raised in Radford, Virginia. He graduated from Kings College in Bristol, Tennessee and Seminary Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. Rev. Bruce is married to the lovely, Laurie Kimbrough Bruce and they are proud parents of four children and six grandchildren. Rev. Bruce has pastored in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas. In 1983 Rev. Bruce and Rev. Thomas, collaborated with church members and organized the first Longview City-Wide Martin Luther King Celebration. The first service was held in 1984 at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church where Rev. Bruce was the pastor. Rev. Bruce was also instrumental in forming Longview Habitat for Humanity and Longview Community Ministries.

Rev. Darnell Thomas was born and raised one of three brothers in Pittsburg, Texas to the late Carrie and Bruce Thomas. He moved to Greggton, Texas with his family in 1937. Rev. Thomas is married to his lovely wife, Mrs. Helen Thomas and they have two sons, Darnell (deceased) and Bruce. Rev. Thomas received a Bachelor's Degree Social Science from Texas College with emphasis on History and Sociology. He later entered Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and graduated with a Master of Theology Degree. Rev. Thomas retired from ministry after pastoring in Beaumont, Texas City, Marshall, Cedar Grove and Longview, Texas. Rev. Thomas and Rev. Bruce collaborated with other community members and organized the first Longview City Wide Martin Luther King celebration. The second service was held in 1984 at McCabe United Methodist Church where Rev. Thomas was the pastor.

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