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Burke, Adams receive Lifetime Achievement Awards

Denise "D.D." Adams receives the Lifetime Achievement Award during The Chronicle's Community Service Awards on Saturday, June 1.

Burke, Adams receive Lifetime Achievement Awards
June 06
00:20 2019

At the Grammy’s, the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to the artist who, during their lifetimes, have made significant contributions of outstanding significance to the field of recording. At The Chronicle’s annual Community Service Awards, that distinction is given to a man and woman who have committed their lives to improving the lives of others and fighting for social justice and equality. 

And last weekend that honor was bestowed upon Superior Court Judge Todd L. Burke and Winston-Salem City Council Member Denise “D.D.” Adams.

A Winston-Salem native and the son of Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke and the late Logan Burke, Judge Burke is a 1983 graduate of Morehouse College. After undergrad, Burke attended law school at NC Central University and received his Juris Doctor degree in 1986. Before he was elected to preside over the 21st Judicial District of the Fifth Division of the Superior Court, which serves Forsyth County and other surrounding areas, Burke worked as a prosecutor in Kinston before returning home to open his own practice, the law firm of Friende and Burke.

In 1994 Burke became the youngest serving resident superior court judge in the state. He was also the first African American male to be named to the senior resident position and prosecutor in Forsyth County.

During an interview with Busta Brown, Burke said while serving as prosecutor at the young age of 24, that although it was tough to have to face people who looked just like him in the courtroom, he looked at it as an opportunity to protect the African American community as well.

“Not only do you have the power to prosecute, but you also have the power to not prosecute after weighing all the facts of any particular situation and determine what’s the right thing to do,” continued Burke. “And my take on that was the black community needed just as much protection as any other community.

“… Obviously you can’t satisfy everyone and oftentimes what you may think is a small amount, that’s big to that person in court. You have to have empathy for those persons and realize what the impact of this decision on them.”

Also a city native, Adams is a graduate of Morgan State University. She has represented the North Ward on the City Council since 2009. During that time she has been an advocate for bringing healthy food options into food deserts, including the hydroponics facility being built near Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. Adams has also been vocal on raising city worker pay to competitive rates. She was also the driving force behind city infrastructure investment. In 2018 Adams was the Democratic nominee for the 5th Congressional District where she faced off against longtime incumbent Virginia Foxx.

While helping run the city, Adams still finds time to serve on several groups, committees and boards including; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, North Carolina League of Municipalities, Women in Municipal Government, NC Black Elected Municipal Officials, First Tee of the Triad, and many others.

During her exclusive interview with Busta Brown, Adams said serving the community is her occupation and her passion. She also briefly discussed her push to make community college free for everyone. She said, “I have initiated some things that people will either like or don’t, but that’s them. I have my deal that I love which is trying to make a better way and difference in the quality of life of everyone.”

After accepting the Paulette Lewis-Moore and Carl H. Russell Sr. Lifetime Achievement Awards, Burke and Adams said they were honored to be recognized. Adams said, “I want to thank the people in the community.

“The one thing that I tell people is that I didn’t choose what I do, I was chosen by God to do what I do.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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