WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - AT&T* is honoring a woman with connections to Wilmington in its 2016 edition of "The Heritage Calendar: Celebrating the North Carolina African-American Experience."
The publication features people from North Carolina who have made a lasting impact on communities and individuals in the state and around the world.
"Many extraordinary people, from all walks of life, have built and shaped the state we enjoy today," said Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T North Carolina. "The Heritage Calendar enables us to gratefully recognize the impact which this year's honorees have had on so many lives, while also assuring that their stories are told and preserved to educate and inspire future generations."
Jana Jones Halls, executive director of Wilmington's Blue Ribbon Commission, is being honored in the calendar. She was drawn from the classroom into the world of non-profits from helping children overcome the challenge of poverty in order to be successful academically.
"There's so much need outside of the classroom that has to be addressed for many students to have a chance to be successful," Halls said. "The issue of poverty is so overwhelming."
The class of 2016 represents a wide variety of fields, including education, law, youth services, philanthropy, literature, athletics and space exploration. The 2016 Heritage Calendar's honorees include:
Julius Chambers, James Ferguson and Adam Stein – Founding members of a Charlotte law firm, they championed a series of major civil rights cases in the 1970s, including a landmarks U.S. Supreme Court case regarding school integration.
Dudley Flood – Beginning his education career as a classroom teacher, he became a leader in the efforts to desegregate North Carolina's public schools and has assisted in efforts in 47 other states. In retirement, he remains an active community volunteer, concentrating on education and healthcare issues.
Jana Jones Halls – Helping children overcome the challenge of poverty in order to be successful academically drew this teacher from the classroom into the world of non-profits. Today, she is the Executive Director of Wilmington's Blue Ribbon Commission on the Prevention of Youth Violence.
Joan Higginbotham – An engineer by training, she became an astronaut and is the third African-American woman to fly in space. Following her NASA career, she participated in a project to eradicate malaria in Equatorial Guinea before settling down in North Carolina to guide the community relations efforts of a major home-improvement company.
The late Zora Neale Hurston – Many literature critics consider Hurston one of America's most significant African-American women writers. She called North Carolina "home" for a period at the height of her literary fame when on the faculty of North Carolina Central University, and collaborating with faculty and students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
John Harding Lucas – The Rocky Mount native has been instrumental in building an inclusive, diverse environment for education professionals in North Carolina and around the world. He was a guiding force in the creation of the North Carolina Association of Educators and served as a public school principal, university president, and school board vice chairman.
The late Moses "Bicycle Man" Mathis and Ann Mathis – The Bicycle Man spent 25 years on a labor of love – collecting, repairing and donating bicycles to children in need. His wife continued the project after his death and expanded the initiative to include education programs to encourage children to improve their grades.
Ruth Revels – The native of Robeson County has spent her life working to build understanding and unity among all ethnicities. As a teacher, she sought to create an inclusive learning experience for all students.
The late Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans – A philanthropist, she helped ensure that the Duke Endowment, a private foundation created by her great-uncle, faithfully executed its mission of supporting higher education, health care and children's' welfare in the Carolinas. She had a particular concern for health care for African-Americans, and was one of the first two women elected to the Durham City Council, having run on a platform of black voter registration.
Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin – A Winston-Salem native, she is the Director of the Forsyth County Public Library. While she enjoys many types of literature, a focus throughout her career has been supporting works by African-American authors or which deal with African-American culture or history.
Cleon Thompson – A biologist by training, he moved from student to chancellor at two universities over the span of a 49-year career in higher education. Thought the years, he was a constant voice calling for racial integration and equal opportunity for all.
The late LeRoy Walker – The first African-American president of the United States Olympic Committee, he left a legacy of more than four decades of service at North Carolina Central University – first as an acclaimed coach and then as Chancellor. During his time at NCCU, he coached 40 national champions and 12 Olympians.
The School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, PNC Bank, The News & Observer, Capitol Broadcasting Company/WRAL-TV and Sheraton Raleigh Hotel serve as primary supporters on The Heritage Calendar project.
To download an electronic copy of the calendar, go to http://ncheritagecalendar.com/2016calendar/