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Feb. 21, 2014
Nine honored as HCC Local African-American Heroes
WELDON, N.C. – For the seventh year, Halifax Community College (HCC) held its "Saluting Our Local African-American Heroes" celebration. Special honors were bestowed on eight community leaders and one HCC student during the Feb. 20 ceremony.

This year's hero honorees included:
  • Doris Taylor Davis (Coordinator, Area Wide Health Committee)
  • Dr. Georgette B. Kimball (Exceptional Children's Program Director, KIPP)
  • Dr. Wendell Perry (Garysburg Firefighter and Retired HCC Employee)
  • Rodney D. Pierce (Cultural Resources Leader, City of Roanoke Rapids)
  • Alfred Riddick (Retired Educator)
  • Rev. Franklin D. Williams, Jr. (Senior Pastor, Roanoke Chapel Missionary Baptist Church)
  • Amber Evans (Halifax Community College Early Childhood Associate Student)
The Presidential Heroes Award was presented to Dr. Pattie B. Cotton (Chairperson, Weldon City Schools Board of Education) and John Fields (funeral home director).

Honorees thanked God, their family, friends, church family, mentors, mentees and many others for supporting them in their achievements. Davis commented, "Today, I consider this my lifetime achievement award." Pierce said, "The real heroes are the people who molded me and helped me get to this point." Williams added, "God has a destiny for your life. If you continue to push and reach, eventually you will get there…I just believe that the Roanoke Valley can be a place where everybody can grow and prosper if we all work together."

In addition, the PRIDE of Halifax Male Mentoring Program, administration and college employees established the Barbara Ann Cramer Memorial Scholarship recently. Recognition of the scholarship was presented to HCC President Dr. Ervin V. Griffin Sr. in memory of his late sister during the ceremony.

About the 2014 Heroes
Doris Taylor Davis
Doris Taylor Davis is one of those exceptional individuals who believe life is a wonder and a gift and a call to responsibility, joy and celebration.

Davis' commitment and contributions to the community are simply overwhelming. She has served in many vital capacities since joining the Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT), Inc. She has served on the board of directors for 22 years and was the first woman to serve as president of CCT. Perhaps her most outstanding service to the community and to the Roanoke Valley has been as the community health specialist for the award-winning Area Wide Health Committee. She has been phenomenal in inspiring citizens to become activists in the care of their own health and those of family members. Davis has also spent much time in outreach to colleges and universities to encourage students. She has been a lecturer and worked with health and social work professionals to donate time for technical and community services.

With the explosion of kidney diseases among African Americans, Davis has led a campaign to educate the public on preventative health, teaching that good health is not a matter of fate but a frame of mind and that poor health is often the result of poor choices. She has developed multi-generational classes to teach lessons in nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, breast cancer awareness, diabetes and medical literacy. With her leadership, 11 "lay health advisors" were trained through the Rural Health Project. She also directs the Tillery People's Clinic, where local doctors give free examinations and consultations one night per month at CCT's Curin House. In addition, she directs CCT's Nubian Youth organization involving youth ages five to 18 that includes a six-week Summer Youth Empowerment Camp for the participants.

Davis' service and devotion to the aging population is unparalleled. Through CCT's Open Minded Seniors, she assists in preparing healthy meals for their weekly meetings. She helps to shop for and serve the food and transports seniors to and from meetings. She coordinates their programs, activities and fundraising events and always has a patient listening ear for their problems and concerns.

Davis' work illuminates and sustains new partnerships in holistic health care, aging, environmental justice and building up our youth.

Dr. Georgette B. Kimball
Dr. Georgette B. Kimball is committed to enhancing the lives of people in each community in which she interacts in the Roanoke Valley and surrounding areas. She has been a strong ambassador, educator and administrator in the Halifax and Northampton County schools for 36 years. She is currently employed as the director of the exceptional children's program at KIPP Gaston College Preparatory. For those who know her expertise, knowledge, zeal and love for helping these students, she is known as the "special needs queen." Also at KIPP, she is the advisor for the Senior Beta Club.

Kimball is also the visually impaired consultant for Halifax County and Weldon City Schools. In this capacity, she ensures teachers and other service providers are giving each student who is visually impaired a quality education, materials, equipment and other services to meet their individual needs. In addition, she served for three years as the coordinator of the Project ASPIRE and Healthy Marriage MATTERS grants for Weldon City Schools. The grants were geared to teach students the importance of high self-esteem, making good decisions, setting reasonable goals, developing positive relationships and teen dating violence. She truly believes that if you invest in children from the start, it will have a lasting impact in their lives as they become the future of our very own communities.

Kimball has been a steadfast member of Oak Grove Baptist Church her entire life. She has served on numerous committees and special projects, including youth period leader for more than 25 years. She also served as chairperson of the Shaw Day Observance for many years. During her tenure as chairperson, she assisted the church in sending more than $1,000 each year to support the advancement of Shaw University.

Kimball has been a leader in various capacities for many years. Her life of leadership began as a special education teacher at Squire Elementary School. She then became assistant principal at Willis Hare Elementary. She has also served as interim principal of Squire Elementary, principal of Jackson Eastside Elementary and principal of Garysburg Elementary before returning to her first love, exceptional children. In 1994, she became the assistant director for the Exceptional Children's program, then moved to director in 1998.

In addition, Kimball has served as president of the Kappa Iota Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. During her tenure, she was awarded the Pauline C. Morton President of the Year Award for her dedicated service to the chapter and the sorority. For the past two years, she has served as the president of the Halifax-Northampton Chapter of the North Carolina A&T Alumni Association. She is the founding president of the Roanoke Valley Historically Black Colleges and Universities Collaborative Association. She was awarded Assistant Principal of the Year for the Northampton County Schools in 1989. Due to her commitment to her church, community and mankind, she was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the Eastern North Carolina Theological Institute in 1998.

One young lady who was mentored by Kimball for the past 30 years wrote, "For many years as a child and on into my adult life, Dr. Kimball was there to give direction and correction. It is because of Dr. Kimball's unwavering love and patience with me that I have furthered my education to the extent of achieving bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration. She instills the value of education in every child she meets and goes above the call of duty to make sure each one has the opportunity to pursue his or her dream."

Dr. Wendell Perry
Dr. Wendell Perry began his heroic venture as a mild-mannered high school math teacher. Beginning in 1962 in Northampton County, he began a long history of uplifting others as an educator. He served as a high school educator until 1969 when he began work at Halifax Community College as a math instructor and later served as a director and then dean of Evening and Weekend Programs. He retired after a 39-year career in education. His commitment can be seen in his own educational process as he worked his way to his doctoral degree in community college education while working full time. He can still be found in the classroom today as he is a believer in learning as a lifelong process.

An example of Perry's innovative nature can be seen while he was serving as the first African-American mayor of Garysburg. He saw the need for a fire department within the town and went back to work to make sure it happened, becoming a founding member in 1979. He has been an active member since that time, currently serving as a firefighter and treasurer. He can be seen practicing his firefighter skills with the young guys on a regular basis, often "showing up" the younger generation. He is known at the fire station as a hard worker with a can-do attitude and is quick to jump in and help with any chore, regardless of how dirty.

Perry's devotion to community extends to many areas. He is dedicated to others, serving Roanoke Chapel Baptist Church as a deacon and Sunday school teacher.

Rodney D. Pierce
Through his cultural resources leader position with the city of Roanoke Rapids, Rodney Pierce has demonstrated a commitment to education by offering free tours of the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail to all students in the Roanoke Valley. His contributions come through the nuggets of local history he shares with students in the hopes that it will bestow on them a sense of pride to go out and make their own history in a positive manner.

Pierce's unselfish devotion to others is characterized through his volunteer efforts. A Halifax Community College alumnus, he sits on the institution's School of Business Advisory Committee. He also works with the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce's Business Education Partnership and Speaker's Bureau, serving as a mock interviewer during interview days and chaperoning middle school students during job shadowing.

Working with the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail, Pierce has demonstrated initiative by reestablishing the museum's lecture series, featuring speakers from the academic, professional and cultural arenas. He also started two new health and wellness initiatives with the Second Day Hike and the Second Saturday Hike, which involve hiking along the Roanoke Canal Trail. These events are sponsored by a number of entities in the business and healthcare fields. Under his leadership, the museum will kick off its education and exercise campaign this March, which will incorporate visits to the museum into the curriculum of all four local public school systems. Pierce also works with the Halifax County Visitor's Bureau, the Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative and the Roanoke Valley Cultural Resources Coalition. He regularly volunteers to serve as guest speaker at local schools in the Roanoke Valley, motivating students to achieve as he shares the area's rich history.

Alfred Riddick
Alfred Riddick has dedicated more than 30 years of service to the Halifax County Public Schools system. He has been a teacher at J.A. Chaloner, William R. Davie and Northwest High. He continued educating and providing support to teachers by offering training as an on-the-job training specialist and extended day director at Scotland Neck and Southeast Halifax high schools. He has also served as principal of Inborden Elementary, Eastman Middle and Southeast Halifax High School.

Riddick is an adult Sunday school teacher at Oak Grove Baptist Church where he also serves as bus driver and chairman of the recreational ministry, as well as member of the unity choir, male chorus and trustee board.

Riddick has devoted much time to serving on various committees in the community. Currently, he is on the board of directors for the John 3:16 Center. He has served as chairman and vice chairman for the Department of Social Services, president and vice president of the Halifax County Association of Classroom Teachers, president of the Halifax-Northampton Alumni Chapter of A&T State University, vice president of the North Carolina Extended Day Association as well as a host of other committees.

Rev. Franklin D. Williams, Jr.
Rev. Franklin D. Williams, Jr. is the senior pastor of Roanoke Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson. Williams has been a proponent of civil rights and an advocate for rural communities, young people and civil rights for the past 25 years. He is a decorated veteran of the United States Marine Corps and was highly involved in recruiting young African Americans to become involved in social issues. He led endeavors to create youth programs for single mothers, homework academics for at-risk youth in impoverished areas and served as the co-chair of a political action committee. While dually enrolled in Liberty University and East Carolina University, Williams helped to strengthen endeavors of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight against unfair housing practices and bring about racial harmony through voter education. He was active in voter registration efforts for college students and worked on several political campaigns.

Williams was actively involved in the efforts of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to obtain grant funding for local residents who lived in substandard housing. He also partnered with local and state government officials to obtain rental assistance for single mothers who were enrolled in college.

Being committed to the community, Williams became concerned about the wellness and nutrition of community families. He helped to establish partnerships with local bakeries, grocery stores, Perdue Farms and the Food Bank of North Carolina to assist citizens in obtaining quality meats, vegetables and baked goods at no cost. He led summer initiatives for students in third to fifth grade, helping them to strengthen their reading and math skills along with cultural awareness curriculums to help narrow the achievement gap.

Williams has a strong sense of building the community through grassroots initiatives. He volunteered to start local group meetings to help parents communicate effectively with school officials and took personal time to encourage students who were labeled at risk to continue their educational pursuits. He also began a pilot program with North Carolina State University to help fourth graders to enhance their math skills.

When the requirements for public schools were raised, Williams met with school board members to identify the needs of elementary school children within his local school area. He established a center for children to receive homework help with reading, writing, science, mathematics and physical education. He provided transportation to the center, fed the children a nutritious meal and had certified teachers to help each child with their homework in order to master key concepts within the state curriculum.

As a role model, Williams constantly meets with young people. He is known for his "rap sessions" where young people can come to him and share their dreams, ideas and life goals. He is a former member of the local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council where he worked with court counselors, judges, district attorneys, parents and at-risk youth to provide constructive activities to help youth avoid risky situations.

Williams constantly challenges his congregation to improve, enhance, and develop their minds and bodies. He continues to work hard to develop a "never give up" mentality. He believes that "everything we do we should do it with a spirit of excellence as unto the Lord."

Amber Evans
Amber Evans is a very creative, energetic person who uses her talent as a singer, actor and playwright to impact our local area in positive ways. She volunteers to sing at many local events. She has improved her performance as a student since beginning attendance at Halifax Community College and will continue to improve academically as well as be an inspiring leader in our society.

Evans is an active member of the Halifax Community College Women of Excellence. She volunteers at Hampton Woods Health and Rehabilitation in Jackson and is a member of Zoar Missionary Baptist Church in Galatia. She has written a play and loves to act and sing.

Evans is creative, always willing to lend a hand and is a positive role model for other young women. She is working hard to become a strong, self-sufficient and admirable woman, and will grow to be the kind of woman who inspires others to better themselves.

Presidential Heroes
Dr. Pattie B. Cotton
Dr. Pattie B. Cotton was the first African American to attend the Roanoke Rapids Seventh Day Adventist Church. Under her leadership as first elder, a summer Bible school has been established as well as a public shoe giveaway. She was also instrumental in starting a women's breakfast for community women seeking health information and "Sisters," a group that visits hospitals, rest homes and gives school supplies to needy families. She also established Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets given annually to the needy, and elderly car services to church and/or medical visits as needed.

Cotton was part of a team that traveled to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia to connect Halifax County school students with Malaysian pen pals. She was the first elementary African-American teacher assigned to William R. Davie Elementary. Twenty-six students were assigned to her -- 20 males and six females -- 21 of which had been retained at that grade level at least once. At the end of that school year, the class was recognized for high progress.

Being the first African-American woman to bowl in the Roanoke Rapids Bowling League, Cotton was also the first black owner of a bowling team. While serving as chairperson for the Weldon City Schools Board of Education, the system was recognized with a National Magna Honorable Mention Award for their incentive to fill school media with books. It was also the first school board in the state to complete Master Board training. Under her leadership, the Weldon City School Board created the first early college program with Halifax Community College, which will graduate its first class in May 2014. As program coordinator for the Open Minded Citizens of Tillery, Cotton understands the importance of programs that bridge the gap between church, home, school, today's seniors and youth. She states, "One must always remember the only way to accomplish much is to serve in any way we can."

John Fields
John Fields has been in the funeral business since the 1950s and always goes beyond the call of duty, fulfilling the personal interaction so needed during the time of loss of loved ones. He has also been a home builder, providing families that would otherwise not be able to afford a home the access to home ownership, sometimes using his name as part of their financial piece so they could have banking coverage.

At 92, Fields is and always has been a professional in his endeavors. He has been a staunch supporter of his community and a dedicated deacon for James Mt. Pilgrim Church for more than 60 years.

Fields recognizes the importance of family and gives credit to his wife, parents, sisters and brothers for their love and encouragement throughout the years. He says "You have to work for what you have, be honest, pay your bills on time and always be thoughtful to people."

For more information on the 2014 HCC Lyceum Series of Special Events, call 252-536-7239, 252-536-7234 or visit www.halifaxcc.edu. This event was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education PBI Formula Grant.
Doris Taylor DavisDr. Georgette B. KimballDr. Wendell Perry
Rodney D. PierceAlfred Riddick Rev. Franklin D. Williams
Amber EvansDr. Pattie B. Cotton John Fields
Halifax Community College’s Mission
Halifax Community College strives to meet the diverse needs of our community by providing high-quality, accessible and affordable education and services for a rapidly changing and globally competitive marketplace.
Primary Media Contact: Melanie Temple, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, mtemple295@halifaxcc.edu, 252-538-4319

Secondary Media Contact: Dr. Dianne Rhoades, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Halifax Community College and Executive Director of the Halifax Community College Foundation Inc., dbarnes-rhoades128@halifaxcc.edu, 252-536-7239