Emma Howard will lead Freedom to Prosperity Parade

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Over her first 93 years, Emma Howard has touched the lives of many. So it is no surprise that she will serve as the grand marshal of this year’s Freedom to Prosperity Parade during Washington’s Juneteenth celebrations on June 15 and 16. “I was a bit surprised when they asked me to be the grand marshal,” said Howard. “However, It is a great honor and blessing to represent the City of Washington on this national holiday that brings all people together regardless of the color of their skin.”

Howard was born in Belhaven in 1930. In 1953 she moved to Long Island, New York. There she got married, was a dietician for eight years, and then became a school teacher. Upon retiring in 1993 she and her husband moved back to Washington. Though retired from teaching full-time, she would continue as a substitute teacher, driven by her passion for working with and teaching children to respect themselves and others. “I always used to tell the children “if I stick a pin in you you bleed red, and if I stick a pin in me I bleed red”,” said Howard. “I would tell them we all have problems, but we need to learn how to deal with them. And most importantly they needed to have respect for themselves, but for everybody, because everybody is somebody. We are all human beings.” Howard would always write these words on the blackboard for her students: I am somebody. I love me. I have self-respect. I am the greatest and I can do anything right if I want to.

Howard modestly accepts the word trailblazer when it comes to describing her life of service to others. In the late 90s, she became the first Black woman to be elected to the Washington City Council. She said she was green but learned a lot along the way and met many people. As a member of the city council, she led the charge to have a swimming pool built that “everybody” could use. “Growing up in Beaufort County there were pools that I could not go to,” said Howard. “I told my fellow commissioners that everybody needs to be able to learn how to swim because we are surrounded by water. I told some of them the only thing they were afraid of was some little Black boys jumping in the same pool as little White girls. I said pools should be open to everyone, pushed the idea, and thank God we got it done.”

But her time of service didn’t stop there. She was also a member of the Human Relations Council, the Committee of One Hundred, and served on the Mideast Commission and Art Council Board. She is a lifelong member of the National Education Association, the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Retired Teachers Association, and is a member of the Beebe Memorial C.M.E. Church. Howard also earned a BS degree in Home Economics from North Carolina A & T State University, a MS degree in Education from Hofstra University, and compiled extensive credits towards a Ph.D. degree in Education at Columbia University. And yes the list goes on and on. “I credit my father for instilling a strong work ethic that I carry with me today,” said Howard. “He told me “Nobody is better than you are.” “He said always look people straight in the eye and don’t look down. Do a little extra and always be the first one to get to work and be the last to leave. He said people will watch you and take notice. I took his advice all of my working years.”

Howard said the key for her has been to always treat others the way you want to be treated. “If someone does me wrong, I’m not going to do them wrong,” said Howard. “I’m just going to keep on smiling and not get mad. I love doing what I did and will continue to help others for as long as I can. God has been good to me so I try to be good to people, and if I can help them along the way my living will not have been in vain.”