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City, N.C. honors Virginia Newell

City, N.C. honors Virginia Newell
November 30
05:00 2017

Former East Ward City Council Member Dr. Virginia Newell celebrated her 100th birthday with some prestigious presents like the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and the Key to the City she received on Monday, Nov. 20.

Newell, who actually turned 100 on Oct. 7 of this year, was lauded during a special reception at City Hall last Monday followed by a presentation of honors at the City Council meeting that night.

State Sen. Paul Lowe presented Newell with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is among the most prestigious awards conferred by the governor for exemplarily service to the state. Mayor Allen Joines presented Newell with the Key to the City. Derwin Montgomery, who currently represents the East Ward, presented Newell with a resolution from the city.

Newell, a Winston-Salem native, developed the Computer Science program at Winston-Salem State University and became chair of the Department of Math and Computer Science Department before retiring in 1985.

She was first elected in 1977, along with Vivian Burke and Larry Little. Newell and Burke were the first two African-American women to be elected to the City Council, which was called the Board of Aldermen at the time.  Burke, who still serves on the council as the Northeast Ward representative and is mayor pro tempore, told Newell during the council meeting she was honored to have served with her.

“We spent many, many hours together, the three of us, to see what we could do to make all people in this city important,” said Burke.

Newell served for 16 years and was known as a champion of racial equality, fair housing and economic justice. She led the effort to build the East Winston Shopping Center. She’s credited with founding the YWCA’s Best Choice Center and was among the sisters in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority that helped develop the Ivy Arms Apartments and Community Center. She’s recognized as a platinum member of the Winton-Salem Chapter of Links, where she focused on voter registration.

After walking up to the podium to receive the Key to the City, the centenarian gave brief remarks, saying that she tried to put aside political party and help everyone she represented.

“We were adamant about changing things down at City Hall,” she said. “… I worked hard for the East Ward because I look like them and they needed it.”

Newell, a graduate of Atkins High School, received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Talladega College, a master’s degree from New York University and a Doctor of Education from the University of Sarasota.

She was married to George Newell for 43 years. They had two daughters, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Virginia Newell with the Key to the City,

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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