Community leaders honored for service, dedicationBy Chanel Davis, Peacemaker Contributor / November 20, 2015
The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) of the Piedmont Triad honored two of the Triad’s committed community leaders for their passion and dedication to equality in both the private and public sector.
The 2015 Brotherhood/Sisterhood Citation Award dinner was held on Thursday, November 12 at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center to honor Margaret B. Arbuckle and Robert J. (Bob) Brown with the 2015 Citation Award. The theme for the evening was Building Blocks for a Better World with more than 1,140 guests in attendance.
“We choose that theme for the dinner this year because I think when we look at creating change and making communities better, it’s a slow process,” said Ivan Canada, NCCJ executive director. “A lot of times there are things that we do over a period of time that leaves a really large impact in our communities.”The dinner was the agency’s 49th annual event, chaired this year by Mark and Ursula Dudley Oglesby, and is the biggest fundraiser for NCCJ. It gives the nonprofit an opportunity to honor outstanding residents who make significant contributions toward creating a community free of bias, bigotry and racism while highlighting its programs that promote understanding and respect among all cultures, races and religions through education and advocacy. It’s estimated that the citation dinner raised at least $300,000. The final number has not yet been tabulated.
Arbuckle’s footprint can be seen in almost every school in Guilford County. The recently retired Executive Director of the Guilford Education Alliance, Arbuckle has championed quality education and social justice for all children in public education for decades and continues to fight for change after retirement. One of her biggest accomplishments as leader of the GEA was the “Face of Change” report. This in-depth report highlighted diversity issues in Guilford County Schools while helping to promote cultural awareness and understanding. The Guilford Education Alliance strives to help children attain a quality education in order to become a productive and contributing member of society.
She said that being honored was an overwhelming and humbling experience.
“For years my husband, Howard, and I have gone to that event and been inspired by the wonderful people who’ve received this honor. These are people that I’ve known and have really exhibited genuine leadership in our community, in multiple ways, but primarily focused on how we can create more equitable opportunities. It just never occurred to me that my name would be on that list,” she said. “It’s an amazing and wonderful tribute but you don’t do because of that. You do because you have the opportunity to. This is a supreme compliment.”
Brown is the CEO and founder of B&C International public relations firm. He is known throughout the world as a solid businessman and philanthropist. He has garnered top corporate contracts with Wrangler, Sara Lee, SC Johnson and Kimberly-Clark, handling corporate communications and race relations for those corporations. In 1993, he founded the International BookSmart Foundation that provides books to children in Africa. He has and continues to be a driving force for equality by improving race relations on a local, national and international level. He has raised funds, traveled with and advised late civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
Brown said that it was a wonderful experience to be honored by the organization and he’s thankful to those who’ve made him the man he is today.
“I’m grateful to all of the people who helped me along the way. I have been extremely fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to do so many things to help others,” he said through email. “I learned very early in life that it is all about giving and serving that counts. I intend to stay on that road.”
Canada said that the honorees fit the dinner’s theme and encompass the essence of the organization’s mission.
“They’ve done that over their lifetime of service and through different ways,” Canada said. “Margaret has been doing that in the education sector with early childhood education, disparities of young people of color and in terms of overall racial justice work. Bob Brown has the same thing but his circles have looked very different. He has done it through government and the corporate world. He’s really been able to do the work that it takes in those settings. You have two different people in different arenas with the same goal which is what we’re all about.”
Chanel Davis is a Peacemaker freelance writer who resides in High Point.