The Burlington County Commissioners continued to celebrate Black History Month this week by honoring several more of the county’s most inspiring leaders and achievers.
During the Board’s meeting Wednesday, the Commissioners recognized State Senator Troy Singleton, children’s author and entertainers Ronnette Smith-Powell and Destiny Powell, and the organizers and student designers who participated in this year’s Rowan College at Burlington County Black History Month Fashion Show. Each honoree was presented with a certificate of excellence in recognition of their achievements and for inspiring current and future generations.
“Black history is American history and also Burlington County history. We are committed to shining the spotlight on our county’s leaders and achievers, both past and present,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “Senator Singleton, Ronnette Smith-Powell and Destiny Powell and the organizers and designers from the Rowan College at Burlington County Black History Month Fashion Show are each helping to lead, inspire and mentor future generations. Our Board is proud to recognize them and their achievements.”
The following are biographies of the County’s latest Black History Month honorees:
Senator Troy Singleton
State Senator Troy Singleton is the first person of color from Burlington County to serve in the New Jersey Senate and he is recognized as a leading voice on a broad range of issues spanning public safety, housing and environmental justice to education and economic development.
A Willingboro native, Senator Singleton is a graduate of Willingboro High School and Rowan University in Glassboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He began his public service in government as an intern in the Assembly Democratic Office, then worked as a staffer for Assemblymen Herb Conaway and Jack Conners. Later, he became Deputy Executive Director of the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office and Chief of Staff to former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts.
Singleton ran for office in 2011 and was elected to the New Jersey Assembly representing the 7th District. He won his seat in the New Jersey Senate in 2017. Currently, he serves as chair of the Senate’s Community and Urban Affairs Committee and vice chair of the Economic Growth Committee. He also serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Joint Committee on Housing Affordability. He also serves in leadership as the Senate Majority Whip.
The Senator has succeeded in getting numerous legislative proposals signed into law, including bills increasing the penalties for illegal gun trafficking and others to help prevent domestic violence, promote job creation and expand educational opportunities. Senator Singleton helped guide landmark environmental justice legislation to become law. He was also a key advocate for creating New Jersey’s Black Heritage Trail.
Ronnette Smith-Powell and Destiny Powell
Ronnette Smith-Powell and Destiny Powell are the mother-daughter team that penned several children’s books and activities books, including Corey Hates Covid, Corey Beats Bullying, Corey Conquers Covid and Corey Shares a Secret. The two also operate Nettie, Nana and Friends, an entertainment company specializing in puppet shows, parties and live performances for children of all ages.
Ronnette is a longtime educator in Willingboro. She grew up in Newark and started in education there before relocating to Burlington County.
The two started writing books to teach children about COVID, mental health and other important topics, and their puppet shows also cover African American and multicultural awareness.
Rowan College at Burlington County Black History Month Fashion Show
The Rowan College at Burlington County Black History Month Show was held on Feb. 15 at the Mount Holly Arts Center on High Street and featured designs from both RCBC students and industrial professionals in collaboration with Atlantic City Fashion Week.
The show was first held in 2019 after Willingboro residents Jeana and Lamont Bowling, who are the founders of Atlantic City Fashion Week, inquired about partnering with the college to support the school’s student designers. From those conversations came the idea of a multicultural fashion show that mixed both college designers and professionals.
This year’s show was one of the most successful yet and was organized by Lisa Steinberg, the college’s fashion program coordinator, in collaboration with the Bowlings. RCBC students Richie Cole, Taiwo Adekunle, Alexander Friend, Mykaila Hunt and Danielle Allen participated as student designers.
“All our Black History Month honorees are helping to make Burlington County a better place with their deeds and accomplishments,” Hopson said. “Our Board is proud to spotlight them and their achievements and we continue to celebrate our county’s history and diversity.”