For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. — 1st Thessalonians 4:14
This tribute to my late friend, Lillian J. Huff — former Democratic National Committee member, community activist and organizer who demonstrated leadership dating back to the early 1960s — is written to share a bit of her life’s story.
Her Celebration of Life Services will be held Thursday, Sept. 27 at her home church, Florida Avenue Baptist Church on Florida Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m., with an Omega Service by Delta Sigma Sorority, Inc. Her funeral services will begin at 11:30 a.m., with her pastor, Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr., officiating.
Huff is listed in Who’s Who in Politics in the South and Southwest; Who’s Who Among African-American Women; Who’s Who Among Blacks and Minorities; Outstanding Leadership Award, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, DC Alumnae Chapter. She was a member of Florida Avenue Baptist Church.
Mrs. Huff and I met in 1983, when she came to my office on Georgia Avenue in northwest Washington seeking help to prepare the Kennedy/King Dinner. She kept me there until the sun came up the next morning. And that, my friends, was my first meeting with Mrs. Huff!
She volunteered thousands of hours to advance the economic, political social and academic positions of people throughout the nation, having helped to improve education, health care, correctional institutions and community relations in the police force, services to young and elder individuals, school lunch and food stamp programs, among other things.
Appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as a delegate to the White House Conference on Balanced National Growth and Economic Development, she also served on Mayor Walter E. Washington’s Commission on Food Nutrition and Health. While serving on this commission, acquiring federal funds for the District of Columbia Public Schools food service, Mrs. Huff worked closely with lots of elected officials from all levels!
Huff led the successful quest to attain a library in the Riggs Park area, which opened in October 1983 and where she served as the first president. As vice chair of the Pre-White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services, she never stopped giving her time.
She served her community well, especially her Ward 5 neighborhood, having served as a member of community groups and clubs too numerous to list in this column. She was appointed by U.S. presidents and worked for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and elected officials at the highest level.
It was my relationship with Mrs. Huff that inspired me to work hard to get my own radio show. At the time of the death of former school board member and talk-radio host Barbara Lett-Simmons’ husband, Mrs. Huff asked me to take her over to Ms. Lett-Simmons’ home to pay her respects. That evening lasted for hours, and is when Mrs. Huff asked Lett-Simmons, “Who is going to host your radio show while you’re off grieving and planning the funeral for your husband?” There was my chance! Having personally written to radio stations throughout the East Coast, seeking an opportunity to come on the air — with no success — I volunteered to host “The Barbara Lett-Simmons Show.”
Next thing you know, Mrs. Lett-Simmons was bringing me her headset, giving me instructions! I was coming on WYCB AM Radio on Saturdays until she returned, hosting “The Barbara Lett-Simmons Show.” This opportunity lasted a couple months or so. Later, after Mrs. Lett-Simmons had a stroke, she asked me to take over her show again — this time it lasted an entire year!
That is how I got my start in radio, and it is all because of Mrs. Huff. Thank you, my friend — you and Barbara Lett-Simmons are gone but never forgotten.
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrantshow.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.