November 15, 2022 (Tampa Bay, FL) – Local artist Ya La’ford was honored with the Blanche Armwood Legacy Award at the annual National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC) Tampa Bay Chapter event. The event, Spelman: A Legacy in Blue, is the Tampa Bay Chapter’s inaugural scholarship gala and took place at the Blue/Vu rooftop of Westin Tampa Bay on October 1st.
The award honors the legacy of Tampa native Blanche Armwood, who graduated from Spelman College in 1906. Known as the “female Booker T Washington,” she was a trailblazer, an educator, an activist, an orator, and the first African American woman from the state of Florida to earn a law degree upon graduation from Howard University Law School in 1938. Fentrice Driskell was also recognized with the Blancche Armwood Legacy Award at the event.
“We are proud to recognize Ya La’ford for her efforts to serve the community. She embodies the spirit of this award with her leadership, empathy, and activism. Ya’s generosity to the Tampa Bay Area is truly unsurpassed,” says Andrea N. Thompson, C’97, President of the Tampa Bay Area Chapter of NAASC.
The honoree selected for the award “will have made significant contributions to the community in the areas of education, arts, social justice, and economic development with the cocktail gala celebrating the legacy and tradition of excellence at Spelman College”. Spelman is a premier historically black institution for women of African descent with active alumni chapters throughout the country.
“I am humbled to be recognized with this award by my sisters at Spelman College. My work is strongly rooted in the community, and I am active in engaging the next generation through artistic opportunities that inspire and provide access to the arts.
Armwood is a role model, and I hope I can continue to serve in a way that honors her legacy,” says Ya La’ford. Like Armwood, La’ford also earned a law degree. But it is her work as a community activist and public arts activist that earned her the honor. La’ford is on a mission to advance arts education for youth and to greater access to the arts through public projects and corporate alliances that contribute to enhanced cultural equity.
La’ford is a first-generation American who moves between her Jamaican heritage and vulnerable communities to try to find a universal language. Her community engagement is often centered around youth programming, working with organizations such as the Mt. Zion Academy and Pinellas Foster Care. The artist engages with over 200 children throughout the year, providing opportunities to contribute to her murals, visit local cultural institutions, and participate in creative home activities.
About Ya La’ford
Ya Levy La’ford, was born in New York and resides in historic Kenwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida, and a Masters in Fine Arts from Art Institute of Boston. La’ford maintains her studio practice in St. Petersburg, Washington, DC, and New York. La’ford is a professor, visual painter, installation artist, and muralist. As a first-generation American, she moves between her Jamaican heritage and vulnerable communities to find a universal language. Her art aims to mobilize citizens to challenge conventional thinking and to understand the intrinsic value of exercising creative license within their communities, and to explore art as a lifelong treasure. Ya La’ford’s mission is centered on creating art and experiences, which exist to immeasurably transform and revolutionize the social, cultural, and historic contexts of creative expression within the human journey. For more information on the artist, please visit www.yalaford.com
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About The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC)
The National Alumnae Association of Spelman College (NAASC) is a 501c3 and the official organization that supports Spelman College, a historically black college for women, through financial gifts, student recruitment, sisterhood, community service, and recognition of Spelman women. More information at https://www.naasc.org/