The leader of the unstoppable Winston-Salem State University football program and the mayor’s right-hand woman have been selected to receive the top honors at this year’s Chronicle Community Service Awards Gala.
Coach Connell Maynor’s Man of the Year honor and Linda Jackson-Barnes’ Woman of the Year plaque will be among the more than a dozen awards presented during the Saturday, March 23 ceremony at the Benton Convention Center. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor emeritus of the Chicago mega church once attended by the First Family, will be the keynote speaker.
In just two seasons, Maynor has taken the Rams to the pinnacle of success. Back-to-back CIAA championships were topped with Division II national title appearances. Maynor’s passion for football and his players has spurred a new and exciting wave of Ram Pride.
As the assistant to Mayor Allen Joines, Jackson-Barnes works in the shadows, but the impact she has had in making Winston-Salem a better place to live, work and play is undeniable. In addition to her vast City Hall duties, Jackson-Barnes has social and volunteer commitments with the Phi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the Winston-Salem Chapter of The Links, Inc. and many other organizations.
Many other awards will be presented during the gala, including the Human Relations honor (for resident(s) who work to build bridges), the Church of the Year and Organization of the Year honors and Lifetime Achievement plaques (for those who have worked for decades to better our city). The first-ever Community Legend Award will be presented to hometown NBA hero Chris Paul and the Paul family. All of this year’s winners will be listed in the March 14 issue.
“Our 28th annual banquet continues to dig deep into the very fiber of our community to recognize those who go about their lives doing good without any hesitation or expectations,” said Chronicle Publisher Ernie Pitt. “Some of our awardees have done small but meaningful things in our community, while others have taken giant steps to ensure that the least of us are cared for and protected. We are rededicating ourselves here at The Chronicle to highlighting some of these achievements and continuing to be the real voice of the black community.”
As the longtime pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Wright was one of the most respected black religious figures in the nation in 2008 when that year’s presidential contest pushed him into the national spotlight.
Trinity United had been the church home of Barack and Michelle Obama for many years. Opponents of then-U.S. Sen. Obama used video clips of some of Wright’s most fiery sermons to paint the pastor and, by extension, Obama as extremists. Wright and his many supporters maintained that Wright’s sermons were rooted in a black church experience that has never shied away from addressing racism, justice and other social wrongs.
The controversy created a rift between Wright and Obama, who gleaned the title of his bestseller “The Audacity of Hope” from one of Wright’s sermons.
After 36 years behind the pulpit, Wright retired from Trinity United. The Philadelphia native is now a much in-demand speaker and author. Wright is no stranger to Winston-Salem. A few months before he made international headlines, Wright preached a weeklong revival at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Hundreds attended the revival, lured by Wright’s reputation as one of the nation’s best. Pitt was among the attendees. Wright’s empowering and uplifting message left a lasting impression.
“I am pleased to bring such an outstanding leader to our community,” said Pitt. “Dr. Wright has been an advocate for justice and fair treatment to all people for many years.”
Pitt added that he hopes the community takes advantage of this opportunity to see and hear the real Rev. Jeremiah Wright, instead of basing their knowledge of the man on media caricatures.
The Saturday, March 23 gala will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 each; tables are also available. Call Paulette Moore at 336-722-8624, ext. 100 for tickets and/or other information.