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Lonnie B. Harrell

Born on 1-19-1943. He was born in Cheraw, Mississippi. He was accomplished in the area of the Arts. He later died on 3-22-2017.
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Lonnie B. Harrell was born in Cheraw, Mississippi, a small rural area seven miles south of Columbia, Mississippi. His mother and father, Edwina and Robert Harrell, had only two children, Lonnie and his sister, Queenie Johnson, now deceased. His mother's dream was for both of her children to attend college, since she knew that education was the only way to get a good paying job and support a family. Both of her children completed high school. Queenie went to college for two years and Lonnie got a job. The money was not there for both children to attend college, so Lonnie let his sister go instead. But he never gave up hope of completing his education.

Lonnie taught himself to type as he loved writing songs, poetry and short stories. he moved to Buffalo in 1965 and got married to Willie D. Johnson, his school sweetheart from Mississippi. They raised three daughters, Chalisa, Lavonda and Shaquita. Yet, Lonnie still yearned for that college degree. At the age of 55, after his children finished college, Lonnie started taking courses at the University at Buffalo. In 1999, he graduated Cum Laude with ribbons, gold embossed certificates, awards and memberships in the Golden Key Honor Society and Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society. His two majors were in American Studies and African Studies. He received the Associate's and Bachelor's degrees. He also attended an awards dinner with speaker, Wolf Blitzer, who passed out awards for outstanding academic achievements to honor students. Lonnie was one of those students. This was one of his proudest accomplishments.

Lonnie is still writing. His title is singer/songwriter, poet/historian. He is also an accomplished jewelry designer and maker, entrepreneur and owner of his own boutique. He says that his dreams are endless and he never will limit himself. His philosophy is to always instill in others to "never let anyone steal your dreams, for they do come true. Never lose faith in God and yourself."

Lonnie is a kidney transplant recipient. He received the "Gift of Life" on December 24, 1989 and views it as a wonderful Christmas gift. Lonnie would like the African American community to know that it is very important to sign the organ donor cards. He says, "My life was saved because someone cared and each day I say a prayer of thanks to the Supreme Being and to my donor family for giving me another chance."

Lonnie is an active member of the St. Luke A.M.E. Zion church and is also a member of the "Gospel Messengers", led by Buddy Davis. He grew up singing in the choir and has now returned to his roots and is enjoying it. Lonnie gives "All praises to God!"

At his place of business, Lonnie lectures young people about their African heritage and how to become self-sufficient. He as been an active entrepreneur in the Allentown community for years, specializing in hand crafted jewelry designed with spiritual connections. He writes and performs poetry with songs around the city. He has performed at Ujima Theatre, Hall Walls, Spot Coffee, Em-Tea Cup Coffee House, Borders Books and many other venues. He has been published in anthologies, has self-published and is now working on his second book of poems. He once wrote a line in one of his poems that has now become his motto; "on the wings of imagination, the mind knows no destination."