Election of first African-American president burnishes Black Alumni Reunion awards
The Black Alumni Reunion awards ban-
quet fell only a few days after the U.S.
elected its first African-American president.
The election results underscored the hard
work and hard times many of the older
alumni endured in prying open doors to
show what they could do at a time when
PHOTOS BY ALBEE INCLE
African-Americans would not even have
been invited to dinner at the White House,
much less serve as host.
Lori Ann Harris ’ 84 mentioned that
accomplishment in her remarks upon
accepting her Harvey E. Beech
Outstanding Alumni Award, and the audience burst into lengthy applause, threatening the tight limit of two minutes each
that the emcees had placed on winners’
“The applause doesn’t count as my two
minutes,” Harris told emcees Allen Johnson
’ 77 and Lois Deloatch ’ 81.
Harris was joined as a Beech Award
winner by James Wynn Jr. ’ 75, Zollie
Stevenson Jr. ’ 84 (PhD) and Rickye
McKoy-Mitchell ’ 81. Chemistry Professor
Valerie Ashby ’ 88 received the Outstanding
The 2008 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award recipients are, from top left, Lori Ann Harris ’ 84, Rickye McKoy-Mitchell ’ 81,
Faculty Award, and Courtney Knowling Zollie Stevenson Jr. ’ 84 (PhD) and James Wynn Jr. ’ 75. The Outstanding Faculty Award winner is Valerie Ashby ’ 88, bottom center,
and the Outstanding Senior is Courtney Knowling.
was named the Harvey E. Beech
Outstanding Senior. They were recognized success stories, regardless of their immedi-
on Nov. 7 at the Friday Center. ate circumstances. She created Lunch with
Harris has made a career in public poli- a Lawyer, a program that lets young teens
cy and politics. After working for state shadow lawyers working in the court sys-
political leaders such as Terry Sanford ’ 39, tem. She developed communication work-
Dan Blue and Harvey Gantt, she founded a shops for parents and teens and set up
lobbying firm that represents business and mentoring relationships for foster children.
nonprofit clients. As a student, she was As a student, she belonged to the Kappa
inducted into the Order of the Old Well Omicron chapter of Delta Sigma Theta,
and served on the Pan-Hellenic Council as and though her family is “the wind
a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. She beneath my wings,” she said, “my sorority
helped organize and plan health fairs and, sisters allow me to fly.” She serves on the
during her senior year, chaired the Carolina UNC Law Alumni Association Board of
Union’s social committee. She kept up her Directors and is a former member of the
Carolina connection through her involve- UNC Board of Visitors. Her commitment
ment with BAR committees, recruiting to service, she said, comes from a Bible
volunteers, attracting community support passage in Luke that reads, “From everyone
and involving legislative dignitaries. who has been given much, much will be
McKoy-Mitchell thanked those who demanded.”
had gone before her for paving the road to Stevenson had a lot he wanted to say
her success. A judge in Mecklenburg and, to keep within the two-minute limit,
County’s juvenile court, McKoy-Mitchell he wrote it all down. Then he took a deep
connects personally with young people and breath and dove into his thank-yous,
encourages them to rewrite their lives into beginning with UNC for giving him a
fine education. “You can’t succeed without
the help of others,” he said.
Stevenson directs student achievement
and school accountability programs for the
U.S. Department of Education, allocating
about $14 billion in federal funds, including some to the Title I program that he
benefited from as a boy in Browns
Summit. He raised more than $1.5 million
annually as board chair of the March of
Dimes, and he has served in leadership
positions at the district and national level
in Alpha Phi Alpha. His list of awards and
honors is long, but he makes mentoring
young people a priority and always makes
time for his family.
Wynn had his own victory to celebrate
that night, having won re-election a few
days before to the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Wynn had served on the appeals court for
18 years and on the N.C. Supreme Court.
The former chair of the American Bar
Association’s 4,000-member Judicial
Division and the current chair of the