In honor of Black History Month 2023, U.S. Congressman Darren Soto held a ceremony recognizing individuals in Central Florida for their accomplishments in the Central Florida community. The honorees’ biographies were submitted into the Congressional Record and they received official Congressional Certificates.

Congressman Soto opened the ceremony by honoring Anna M. Pinellas, who passed away recently. Congressman Soto recognized Ms. Pinellas in 2019 during Black History Month for her work as the founder of Osceola Visionaries, Inc. and as a civil rights leader.  A moment of silence took place in her honor.

“It’s really the stories that make these events, educators, non-profit leaders, business leaders, veterans, medical professionals, so many folks from the African-American and Black-Caribbean community who really make Central Florida a better place,” Congressman Darren Soto said at the event at Hunter’s Creek.

Honored during the ceremony were:

Lawrence Allen, Charminta Brown, Merchon Green, Michael Harris, Lavelle Monger, Nadege B. Jean-Paul, Jen Paul, Eric Pinnelas, Dr. Ann Y. Eastman Ellison Tyler, Dr, Sandra Nixon Tynes, Lakisha Washington, and Dr. Amanda Wilkerson,.

jen Paul
Darren Soto

“This occasion gives us all a moment to reflect on the continued change that is still needed in Florida. Many believe that talking about black history makes other people feel uncomfortable, but in reality, knowing the past helps inspire the future generations to be a good neighbor regardless of your skin color,” Jenn Paul shared after being recognized by the Congressman.

“As I stand here today, I cannot help but be reminded of the countless individuals who came before me and paved the way, people like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X., and so many others who fought tirelessly for the rights and freedoms of Black Americans. I am forever grateful for their sacrifices and unwavering dedication to the cause of equality, Lavelle Monger during the ceremony.”

Source:,  Darren Soto Office