The Delaware Juneteenth Association (DEJA) develops and implements strategic prevention programming that addresses the problems facing our communities: alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse, domestic and gang related violence, teen pregnancy and low self-esteem by educating our children from pre-school to young adults through workshops and cultural events that provide knowledge and celebrate the African American experience as our heritage relates to all people.
GET TO KNOW US
The Late Bernie Wilkins, Founder
Bernie graduated from Wilmington High School in 1961. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving his country as an Airman from 1961 to 1965. In 1966, Bernie attended Delaware State College, (now University), where he was a key player on the men’s basketball team. In 1970, he had the honor of being listed in the “Who’s Who” among students in American Colleges and Universities. He also pledged with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. his pride and joy. After graduating, Bernie became an educator in the Wilmington Public School System for three years. He was employed by Neighborhood House as a Youth Coordinator for 25 years; and Children and Families First, servicing the Department of Corrections’ Plummer Center and the Hazel Plant Women’s Facility until his retirement.
In 1994, Bernie founded the Delaware Juneteenth Association after a trip to a
conference where Juneteenth was celebrated yearly. After returning to Wilmington, he decided that it was time for all Delawareans and people across the globe to know the history of Juneteenth and the celebrations began. With the challenging work and dedication of establishing motivational community involvement, the team and Bernie worked tirelessly to establish the Delaware Juneteenth Association.
A scholarship was created at his Alma Mater, Delaware State University. Each year deserving students in Business Administration receive assistance from the Delaware Juneteenth Association, in his honor. Most recently, Bernie was nominated for a Community Service Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Zeta Omega Chapter.
Bernie departed this life on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2021. A few months earlier. He lived to see legislation signed recognizing Juneteenth as a legal holiday on July 17, 2021. He lived out his purpose and passion.
Sylvia Lewis-Harris, President & Co-founder
Sylvia has been a member of the Delaware Juneteenth Board of Directors for over twenty-five years and strives to continue its legacy of cultural/family enrichment and focusing on eliminating racism and racial injustice. Through years of service she received honors as a member of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation Board of Directors, Outstanding Member Service – Delaware HIV Consortium along with the City of Wilmington Awards Recipient for Heroism 2006. Professional affiliations include State of Delaware Community Planning Group (Health & Social Services), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).
Sandy Clark, Pageant Director, Treasurer & Co-founder
Sandy's affiliation with the Delaware Juneteenth Association (DEJA) has proven to be one of her most rewarding accomplishments. As part of the Annual Juneteenth Celebration, she has directed the Juneteenth Youth Pageant, which has been celebrated for 25 years. By her years of service to the organization, Sandy has shown her dedication and commitment to empowering the next generation of leaders. Her most recent recognition came from her colleagues of the Delaware Juneteenth Association, being honored with the “SANDRA M. CLARK SERVICE AWARD”. This award is to be presented annually to a deserving youth, ages 8-18 for their Exemplary Community Service.
Brenda Timmon-Gunter, Secretary & Co-founder
Brenda Timmon-Gunter, LMSW was born and raised in the first state that started the nation, mother of two, grandmother of 5, friend to many and a caretaker. She has been with DEJA for 28 years. She was the former president and is now the secretary. In the early days she wrote countless stage plays commemorating the African American experience throughout American History. She sits on several boards in many capacities. Brenda Timmon-Gunter is no stranger to hard work. She works diligently in her community and helping people is her passion. She believes serving in silence renders its own rewards.
Nancy Taylor-Hall, Board Member & Co-founder
Nancy Taylor-Hall was born in Ft. Worth, Texas and lived all around the world as a dependent of a career Air Force father. She has been with DEJA for 29 years as one of it founding members. Nancy has been dedicated to the cause of bringing Juneteenth to the communities in Delaware. "I believe that it's important for us to teach people the history of freedom and to instill in them that we need to free ourselves of things that hold us back from obtaining our goals of freedom and justice from all."
Styna Marisa LeCompte, Board Member
Sr. Treasury Analyst with the City of Wilmington, in the City Treasurers Office with 31 years in public service. She is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® with over 42 years of membership and community service. She is the immediate past president of Sigma Zeta Omega Chapter of Newark, DE. Presently she is chairman of the ACT (Audio Visual, Communication, and Technology) committee at Simpson UM Church responsible for communication to the congregation. Developing training programs for youth of all ages. Sits on the Board of Directors of the Clarence Fraim Senior Center. Styna has been participating with the DE Juneteenth Association for the last 20 plus years working with the Miss Juneteenth Pageant. Her commitment to community awareness, and community service will help the board propel forward the message of Juneteenth to the Delaware community.