Bishop Billy Baskin and New Way Fellowship Baptist Church honored one of their own Sunday, June 24 at their 10:45 service. The Mayor of The City of Miami Gardens, Shirley Gibson, a long-time member of the congregation, was feted and celebrated for her nine years of dedicated service to the City, as well as her many accomplishments during her tenure as mayor.
Several different and varied organizations stopped by and paid homage to Mayor Gibson through song, dance, personal and professional stories and special gifts. Some of those who stopped by to speak about the Mayor and what she has done while in office included the Dade North Junior-Senior Classes of ’61 and ’65, her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated Dade Alumnae & Miami Alumnae Chapters, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Barbara Johnson, retired employee of The AFL-CIO, several members of Gibson’s City Staff including Assistant City Manager Vernita Nelson and the Mayor’s personal secretary, Julie-Ann Smith and First Lady of New Way Fellowship Baptist Church, Bishop Catherine P. Baskin.
It was also proclaimed “Shirley Gibson Day in The City of Miami Gardens” through a proclamation from The Miami- Dade County Commission.
A special rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” sung by Trolena Brown and Nathalie Williams, uplifted the spirits of everyone present, including the Mayor, who couldn’t hold back tears at all the attention that was being bestowed upon her.
“Sunday’s celebration of my legacy was the most moving and loving spiritual experience I have been a recipient of in my lifetime of public service. When they told me they were going to honor me, my first inner thought was to tell them ‘there was no need to do that,’ but I didn’t verbalize it. I’m a bit uncomfortable with all of the public accolades about what I do, because for me, it is my gift.”
However, one of the organizers of the event, Evelyn Mosley, said that she and her co-organizers, Leola Adams and Lois Alexander, didn’t think twice about putting together a program to honor Gibson. According to Mosley “she’s done such a tremendous job and what she does ties into her religious convictions. I know that we’re not supposed to mix church and state and all of that, but you can’t take some of that away. And if it’s in you, some kind of way, you’re going to allow it— to use it— in your every day life, even in governing more than 100,000 people.” Added Mosley, “Plus, she has the heart of servitude.”
Not only has Mayor Gibson been dedicated to her city, she also has been dedicated to educating the youth. In his presentation during the ceremony, District 1 School Board Member Wilbert T. Holloway praised Mayor Gibson in her efforts to support the schoolchildren in her city. “The Miami Gardens Educational Compact, established by Mayor Shirley Gibson, enabled the City of Miami Gardens to have all passing schools,” remarked Holloway. That means no schools in the city had an “F” grade.
During her tenure as Mayor of The City of Miami Gardens, Gibson had numerous community projects completed, including the Beautification Project on the roadways and medians in the city; The inception of the Miami Gardens Police Department; The current building of a new City Hall and Police Department; Helping to bring Fortune 500 companies such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks and Mercedes-Benz of Miami into the city limits to hire Miami Gardens residents and do business in the community; Enforcing code compliances and of course, the vision to have a signature event for the city, Jazz in the Gardens, which attracted more than 48,000 people this year to come and hear great live music and patronize the businesses in The City of Miami Gardens.
Gibson is currently term-limited as mayor after serving two terms—a provision in the city’s charter that she voted yes for when The City of Miami Gardens was incorporated. She is currently a candidate for Miami-Dade County Commission, District One seat.