NAACP Berkshire President Recognized At Black Excellence on the Hill Event

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BOSTON — Dennis Powell, the President of the NAACP-Berkshire County Branch, was nominated for the "Black Excellence on the Hill'" event, hosted annually by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.  
 
The event is described by the organizers as an "Event to commemorate Black community leaders and trailblazers that are moving the needle forward in their respective communities. Our 2021 nominees are activists, teachers, musicians, chocolatiers, and more -- demonstrating that the excellence inherent to Blackness emulates from how expansive it is." 
 
Senator Adam G. Hinds nominated Powell. 
 
"Dennis is the conscience of the community," Hinds said. "He has done so much this past year to organize and stand up to racial injustice, and expanded the NAACP branch's membership and scholarship funds in the process. He deserves to be recognized for all that he has done." 
 
Powell is the current President of NAACP Berkshire County Branch, which he helped rebuild locally starting in 2012. According to a press release, Powell has been a central force in regional organizing actions in a year of a global racial reckoning. Through that work he also expanded membership of the NAACP branch and increased donations to the Freedom Fund that provides scholarships in support of African American students from Berkshire County during their first and second years of college. 
 
 Powell also serves on the Pittsfield School Committee, the Pittsfield Licensing Board, is Vice Chair of the Clinton Church Restoration Board and continues to be active in several social and racial justice education projects. Powell was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, before serving in the U.S Army in Germany. After leaving the Service he attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and later became a teaching fellow at the prestigious school, and eventually returned as a faculty member and department chair. After a career at C.I.A he returned to Pittsfield to open a restaurant, and now helps with his son's restaurant, Mad Jacks. 

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Veteran Spotlight: Sgt. Maj. Michael King

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This week's Veteran Spotlight subject is retired Army Sgt. Maj. Michael King, who now leads the Berkshire Veteran Outreach Center.
 
King grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and served his country from 1993 to 2015. He enlisted at the age of 18 and was sent to basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala. 
 
"It was definitely a culture shock," he recalled. "I learned about biscuits and gravy from the mess hall, which I found delicious ... remember an obscene amount of heat and humidity."
 
King's first assignment was at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where he served in law enforcement as an military police officer. From there, King was assigned to the former Johnston Island Air Force Base — 800 miles southwest of Hawaii — that is now a wildlife preserve.
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