The Departmental Progressive Club, a cornerstone of Alexandria’s African American history, installed its newest officers Jan. 13 at the organization’s facility on Gibbon Street.
Former School Board member Christopher Lewis was sworn in as president, with Merrick Malone as vice president, Elijah. W. Griffin Sr. as financial secretary, L’Allegro Smith as assistant financial secretary and Scott A. Price as treasurer.
Lewis took the presidential reins from former School Board member William Campbell, who moves to the position of Chair of the House Committee which oversees the club’s physical plant.
Leonard J. Polk Jr., Grand Exalted Ruler of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, administered the oath of office. Polk is the leader of the Elks worldwide with lodges in the United States, Bahamas, Panama and Puerto Rico.
Also present to support the club was Harold S. Hughes, Exalted Ruler of Alexandria Lodge #48, and several of his members.
Del. Charniele Herring (D-46) attended the event along with City Manager James Parajon. Alexandria City Councilman Canek Aguirre spoke on behalf of the city. Other Council members in attendance included John Chapman, Aliya Gaskins and Kirk McPike.
In addition to Lewis and Campbell, other officers include William E. Chesley, Recording Secretary, and Vaughn Ambrose as Sergeant at Arms. Daniel Selby, Lawrence P. Robinson and Donal Goff are board members.
Following the swearing in, DPC members gathered on stage to sing the club song, “In the Garden.”
Longtime member Robinson presented a historical slide show of over 200 photos featuring past members including Lawrence D. Day, A. Melvin Miller, Ferdinand T. Day, and Horace Burton.
Lewis, who presented a plaque to Campbell from the members expressing appreciation for his service as President, closed the program with remarks about his vision to begin plans for the DPC’s 100th Anniversary celebration. He vowed to “maintain where appropriate and improve where possible the financial, physical, and operational status of the club.”
Referring to DPC members and community leaders of the past such as Day, Miller and Greene, Lewis said, “We stand on the shoulders of others.”
A reception followed the benediction by DPC chaplain Rev. Elliott Waters.