The African American Cultural Center hosted its 26th Annual Ebony Harlem Awards of Excellence on Sunday, April 28, 2019. The event recognizes NC State students, faculty and staff who embody the mission of the African American Cultural Center through their talents, scholarship and community efforts.
This year’s awards ceremony explored the themes of Blackness + Joy, Magic and Belonging. We wanted to openly recognize the complex experiences that Black members of the NC State community have, inside and outside of the classroom while also identifying the absolute need to affirm the contributions that they make, as we continuously advocate for a more inclusive Wolfpack community.
This year’s ceremony was particularly special because of the new awards that the AACC offered to celebrate the expanding definition of Black excellence.
The Entrepreneurship Award recognizes undergraduate students engaged in entrepreneurial efforts relating to the arts, social issues, technological development, research and/or business ownership that operates in the spirit of ujamaa, or cooperative economics.
The From Theory to Nia (Purpose) Award recognizes a graduate student who uses their scholarly achievements and/or production to empower the community to deepen its understanding of issues pertaining to Black identity and culture.
The Dr. Lawrence M. Clark Faculty Development Award recognizes a faculty member who works to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of NC State and to support the professional success of Black faculty. The criteria for this award is demonstration of advocacy at the departmental level or higher, mentorship of other faculty members and other activities that create access to professional opportunities for underrepresented groups.
The Undergraduate Research Award recognizes a faculty member who provides excellent mentorship of undergraduate students on projects that advance our knowledge of Black culture and/or issues that impact Black communities. The criteria for this award is demonstrated ability to support research activities for undergraduate students and to empower them to develop their research skills.
The Graduate Student Mentorship Award recognizes a faculty member who provides excellent mentorship for Black graduate students in any field. The criteria for this award is a display of commitment to helping students find success and gratification in their chosen path of study as well as nurturing students’ personal and professional development.
The Mentorship Award recognizes a staff member who provides excellent mentorship for Black students. The criteria for this award is a demonstrated commitment to helping students achieve success in the classroom and empowering them to discover their purpose outside of the classroom.
The Sticks in a Bundle Award recognizes a staff member who has displayed an investment in the professional and personal success of their Black colleagues. This staff member embodies the proverb that “sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” The criteria for this award is a demonstrated commitment to creating engaging spaces, encouraging collaborations and providing meaningful professional mentorship opportunities to their racially minoritized peers.
This year, tributes to Black joy featured amazing performances from Maayan Eaves, the vocally gifted 2019 Pan Afrikan Queen; Akeem Blalock, LesTheGenius and PM, who spit a provocative cypher; and, Erin Elliot, an amazing wordsmith who shared her definition of the all-encompassing definition of Blackness. Jordan Bullock, 2019 Pan Afrikan King, also charged each member to reflect on their growth while reminding everyone to practice forgiveness and collective action. In addition to an awards ceremony, this event is also an opportunity for local Black alumni to warmly welcome soon-to-be graduates into the Black Alumni Society with a special pinning ceremony. Toni “Mama” Thorpe closed the evening by leading a Harambee circle and inviting students to continue spreading their magic in all the spaces that they occupy.
A huge congratulations to the 2019 Ebony Harlem awardees:
Dramatic Performance Award
Literary Talent Award
Instrumental Music Award
David Alex Thomas
Vocal Music Award
Toni “Mama” Harris Thorpe Activism Award
Joanne Woodard Leadership Award
Augustus Witherspoon Distinguished Person Award
From Theory to Nia Award
Graduate Student Impact Award
Lawrence M. Clark Faculty Development
Undergraduate Research Award
Graduate Student Mentorship Award
Nkonsonkonson Mentorship Award
Sticks in a Bundle Staff Award
John Robinson-Miller is the program coordinator in the African American Cultural Center.