Grand Rapids Community College Giant Awards XXXI


January 26, 2013
The Sparkly Stellafly
DeVos Place

Eleven “Giants” were honored by Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) at their 31st annual Giants Awards on Saturday evening, in recognition for their contributions to the community. The awards are given to African-American leaders and organizations that shape the quality of life in Grand Rapids. Appropriately, each award memorializes a local leader who also demonstrated excellence in the community.

This inspiring evening, emceed by WZZM 13’s Take Five Associate Producer Eddie Rucker, raised money for GRCC’s Milo M. Brown Memorial Scholarship Fund—each year two or more of these scholarships are awarded to African-American students.







Anita Hitchcock, Assistant City Attorney, was awarded the Floyd Skinner Justice Award, named for the man who partnered with a fellow attorney to eliminate “Jim Crow” segregated seating in local movie theaters, and helped to overcome barriers that prevented blacks from holding white-collar jobs at City Hall.

The Walter Coe Public Service Award, presented to Lt. Colonel Shawn Harris, of the Grand Valley National Guard Armory, is named for the first African-American police officer who rose in the ranks to become sergeant in two years, lieutenant in ten years, and in 1950 was named Captain and put in command of the Special Investigation Division.

Lennox Forrest, Ph.D., psychologist and founder of Faith Counseling Services was given the Eugene Browning Medical Service Award. Dr. Browning was a pioneer, operating a weekly well-baby clinic in the early 20th century out of First Community A.M.E. Church. He provided his services to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.







Johngerlyn “Jonse” Young, Donor Services Director for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, received the W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award. This award is named for Dr. W.W. Plummer, a dentist who has repeatedly donated his services to the Foundation Pedodntique in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

The Milo Brown Business Award is named for Milo Brown, who opened his first funeral home in Grand Rapids in 1925. He was a charter member and officer in various civic and social activities including the NAACP, Chamber of Commerce, and Better Business Bureau. This award was presented to Ophelia Graves, owner of Graves Deli and O’s Hats & Accessories.

Phyllis Scott was a woman of conviction who had a strong belief in ensuring that children’s educational needs were met, and who voiced her opinion without worrying if it was going to be popular or unpopular. The 2013 Phyllis Scott Activist Award was presented to Mary Harden Johnson, a Grand Rapids Public Schools Social Worker.




Grand Rapids Community College Giant Awards XXXI





Teresa Weatherall Neal, Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools, was given the William Glenn Trailblazer Award. William Glenn was one of the first African-American employees in a Grand Rapids war production factory, and played a role in getting all of these plants to hire African-Americans.

The Raymond Tardy Community Service Award was given to Sarah Brooks, Volunteer Hospital Representative for the American Legion Auxiliary. Raymond Tardy was active in efforts to obtain suitable housing for low-income families while encouraging others to attain the educational goals needed to elevate their life style.

Lead Pastor of Kentwood Community Church, Rev. Kyle A. Ray, was presented with this year’s H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award. Reverend Toliver moved to Grand Rapids in 1937 and spent his life helping others to obtain employment, lending money to those regardless of their ability to repay him, and being there for his community no matter what.

















Shirley Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services at Kentwood Public Schools, was awarded the Hattie Beverly Education Award, named in honor of the teacher assigned to Henry School in 1913, where she stayed despite protests of the hiring of an African-American teacher. Her case brought Booker T. Washington to Grand Rapids to create better understanding of the races.

This incredible evening was capped off with the presentation of the Giant Among Giants Award. This award was given to Ingrid Scott-Weekly, a long-time affirmative action advocate in the West Michigan Community. She retired in June from her role as Managing Director of Administrative Services for the City of Grand Rapids, but she will forever be known for her efforts to support diversity not only in Grand Rapids but throughout the region.

Many thanks to the Grand Rapids Community College for involving us in these fantastic events this week. It’s been an honor!

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

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