3 Lexington leaders honored for efforts inspiring positive change

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Three Lexington leaders were honored Tuesday evening for their work in the community at the 2024 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards.

The award recognized by the Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, a community-advised committee of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, honors those at the forefront of addressing inequalities and social justice in the Black community around Lexington.

The three recipients are:

Father Norman Fischer
Fischer was born in Perryville. He currently serves as the full-time chaplain at Lexington Catholic High School and is the Parish Priest of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church. He said he comes from a background of understanding his faith from an early age.

“A priest said to me when I was a little kid that you are going to be a priest and take my place,” said Fischer.

He said it is always important to know your roots and is thankful to celebrate where he comes from, as the son of a Black father and a mother from the Philippines.

“To work at Lexington Catholic to make sure that all students are welcomed and that all students have a voice. To be at St. Peter Claver, which is a historically Black Catholic church, for me, I celebrate every day, and I am humble and thankful to do it with everybody,” Fischer added.

He said over the years he has enjoyed impacting others through religion and hopes to expand his reach.

“Even if you have experienced trauma, pain, or difficulty of narrative in this story, there is a place where you can express that, so I might want to work with artists work with galleries so people can find healing and share,” Fischer concluded.

Letonia Jones
Jones is originally from Paducah. She said she came from a compassionate family, and it has always been in her DNA.

She is an author, recently publishing a book called “Black Girl at the Intersection,” which she said is a journey of what her life has looked like. She also works in the criminal defense business, seeking mercy in death penalty cases.

“It means a lot [the award]. It came at a time where I was wondering if the work I was doing was worth it because sometimes it feels like this is repetitive; these aren’t new issues that we are looking at so this award came as a means of lifting me up,” said Jones.

She said that over the years, she has strived to be an example for positive action.

“We need joy; we need to celebrate. I always have tried to be an example of that. The work has been difficult but the way I have tried to live my life has been that of light, and we can acknowledge those things, I think it causes hope in the next person, the next black person. We all need it don’t get me wrong, but we go through so much.”

Rozalyn Akins
Born in the east end of Lexington, Akins decided to take matters into her own hands and founded the Black Male Working Academy (BMW Academy) in 2005. She also later went on to found another program, Black Boys and Men in Medicine (BBMM). Akins said she believes her love of advocating for young men came from growing up as the oldest sibling of five brothers.

“It is almost paradoxical, that a person is being rewarded for their passion, their purpose, and what they love to do,” said Akins.

She said she is humbled to accept the award and gives credit to her team, as they all have worked to grow the program from 40 young men to 400 today. She said she hopes for the program to continue to grow over the next few years.

“I would love over the next few years, to have a thousand young that we mentor, offer tutoring, workforce development opportunities, internships,” said Akins.

Each recipient received a $5,000 stipend, acknowledging their continuous efforts to create positive change.

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