Residents in Northwest Philadelphia and Lower Montgomery County areas will pause during the Labor Day weekend to remember Dr. Donald Clark. 

The community activist, teacher and professor, and past president of the non-profit Mount Airy Cultural Center, Inc. passed last April 21 at Warminster Hospice at the age of 75. So, the MACC board, The Council of Jazz Advocates (COJA), local NAACP members and others will dedicate this year’s scholarship gala to Clark.

The tribute will take place at the 21st Annual Tony Williams Scholarship Festival. It will take place at the Airport Embassy Suites, 9000 Bartram Ave. Friday, Sept. 2 at 3:30 p.m. to Monday, Sept. 5 at 3:20 p.m. It will continue with a “Blue Monday Jam” at the LaRose Jazz Club, 5531 Germantown Ave. beginning at 7 p.m.

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“The Tony Williams Scholarship Jazz Festival has come of age,” said Thelma W. Anderson of Mount Airy, founder of COJA and member of the MACC board. “We are commemorating Dr. Clark and those who are a part of the history of jazz in Philadelphia. We invite the community to come for the weekend or come for the day, because we will be glad to see you anyway.

“At this year’s festival all are invited to sign COJA’s Declaration of Jazz as a national treasure,” she added. “This (document) is recognizing that COJA and MACC has promoted jazz for 21 years. These are volunteer efforts to promote and preserve jazz as an art form and a major contribution to the world. This testimonial will be framed for display and archival purposes.”

Among the highlights of the 2011 festival will be a special guest performance by Bill Cosby and His Reunion Band in the Main Ballroom on Sunday, Sept. 4 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The festival will also honor six local and international musicians. They are John Blake, Tyrone Brown, Tommy Campbell, Larry McKenna, Odean Pope and Curtis Warner.

“This is always a family oriented festival,” said Tony Williams of Mount Airy, the founder and president of MACC. “We will have jazz workshops, a vendors’ mall, jam sessions and many meet and greet receptions. We will have hospitality in the atrium. This continues MACC’s mission to use jazz as a vehicle for helping young people develop the kind of respectful attitudes, discipline and leadership qualities that will enable them to become productive adults.”

Clark epitomizes MACC’s mission, according to Anderson and Williams. He was known as a “fighter for the underdog.” He was a founder of the Montco Police Athletic League, an active with NAACP branches in Montco, a member of the Abington Community Task Force, a member of the Willow Grove Fund, a board member of the National Council of Educating Black Children, a member of No Place for Hate and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Festival packages are $100 or one can get a daily pass. For ticket information contact Anthony Williams at (215) 848-3677, Verna Edwards at (215) 248-4415, or Anderson at (215) 248-0188; or visit the website at www.maccjazz.org.

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