Feb. 1, 2023
“Black history is a lifetime. It is not a month. Stop letting other people control the narrative.”
– Forum participant Gary Marion
Jan. 24, 2023
Perhaps there is no middle way between the stout defenders of Black History Month and Gary Marion’s daunting expectations of how to honor Black History and the contributions that so many millions of people have made over time to that history.
At its Tuesday morning meetings in February, the Forum continued its celebration of Black History Month with presentations that capture some of that Black history. As a supplement, the front of the Forum website carried a new Black History Month reminder each day. Each reminder pictured local African Americans who have helped shape that history in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and been presenters or participants at Forum meetings over the years. The daily reminders are collected below by date, with the 168 names of those pictured, in left-to-right order. If you see an error, please send us an e-mail. Thanks to you, and thanks to all who have contributed to the strength and resilience of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Black community.
Feb. 1: The Rev. Vernon Herron (D. 5-16-15), Charlotte native, pastor to Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania; groit; author of the Forum’s “operating agreements;” Dr. Betty Howell Gray, longtime educator and leader of the local chapter of the National Alliance of Black School Educators; Arthur Griffin, paralegal, textbook publisher’s rep in urban markets, school board chair, county commissioner; Lucille Puckett, community organizer, mayoral candidate; Dr. H. Allen Smith, CMS West Learning Community superintendent in 2013; Trevor Fuller, lawyer, county commissioner 2014-2020, U.S. Senate Democratic primary candidate 2020.
Feb. 2: Mario Jovan Shaw, co-founder of Profound Gentlemen; Toni Tupponce, program director, A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas; Colin Pinkney, executive director of The Harvest Center of Charlotte; Elisa Chinn-Gary, Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court & Judge of Probate; Chris Jackson, CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont; George Battle III, longtime CMS general counsel, UNC vice chancellor of institutional integrity.
Feb. 3: Kerr Putney, CMPD Chief of Police retired; Dr. Latasha McIlwaine, owner of Insightful Options, PLLC, counseling and consulting services; David Howard, Housing Partnership official, transportation consultant, former City Council member, mayoral candidate; Leon Miller, retired longtime Mecklenburg County executive, blogger; Nakisa Glover, serial entrepreneur and climate activist; Connie Sessoms Jr., CMS Driver’s Education leader.
Feb. 4: Marcus Clarke, CIAA business administration; Maria Macon, Polish Inc., expungement clinics, Young Entrepreneurs Network; Ken Koontz, television reporter, documentarian, gadfly; Chaz Beasley, Katten law firm, former N.C. House member, State Board of Community Colleges; Erin Barksdale, first principal of Renaissance West K-8 in CMS; Malcolm Davis, principal with Bermann Associates architects/engineers/planners.
Feb. 5: Michael Barnes, lawyer, former City Council member and acting mayor; Tamika Lewis, former Teach for America teacher, financial analyst, community organizer; Jason Jones, recording studio owner and performer recording as Jason Jet; Fulton Meachem, CEO of Inlivian, the former Charlotte Housing Authority; Brenda Robinson, Navy’s first Black woman aviator, Aviation Camps of the Carolinas; Ronald L. Carter, executive search consultant and executive coach in High Point, 13th president of Johnson C. Smith University.
Feb. 6: Keith Haywood, president and owner, FDY, Inc. food service; Tari Cottman, senior facilities manager, Eastway Regional Recreation Center; Jason Terrell, co-founder of Profound Gentlemen; Kenston Griffin, founder of Dream Builders Communication; Mary McCray, longtime CMS teacher and teacher organization official, served 7 years as CMS Board chair; Christopher Dennis, bank tech manager, neighborhood association president, commercial developer in challenged corridors.
Feb. 7: Dr. Gyasi Foluke (D. 9-25-20), retired Air Force intelligence analyst, nontraditional minister, Urban League director, college instructor in Black studies, Africana scholar, author of many books; Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (D. 11-17-21), family physician, missionary, minister, Novant senior v.p. for physician services, co-lead of Charlotte’s Opportunity Task Force; Justin Perry, licensed clinical social worker, therapist, “proud social justice warrior”; Janeen Bryant, former teacher, school board candidate, nonprofit leader, current Community Building Initiative executive director; Anthony Trotman, deputy county manager and consolidated human services agency director; Derwin Isaiah, therapist at Isaiah Counseling & Consulting.
Feb. 8: Rodney Monroe, CMPD Police Chief retired; Rep. Carla Cunningham, nurse, N.C. House District 106; Kris Chambers-Woodruff, City Council primary candidate; Bonita Caldwell, president of Beatties Ford Memorial Gardens; Robert Dawkins, veteran community organizer; Harry Jones (D. 2-15-17), former county manager.
Feb. 9: Tommie Robinson, Charlotte native, internationally known artist; Dawn Hill, City of Charlotte Youth Employment Program manager; Munro Richardson, Read Charlotte executive director; Rickye McKoy-Mitchell, District Court judge retired, Mecklenburg’s longerst-serving District Court judge, candidate for N.C. Court of Appeals 2016; James Mitchell, Charlotte City Council; Steven Durant, Eastway Division Police Department lieutenant.
Feb. 10: Rhandu Adams, Mecklenburg Council of Elders Director of Youth Engagement; Tiffany Capers, Teach for America, CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing and Community Development in Grier Heights; Ron Leeper, Charlotte City Council, Leeper Construction Co.; Beverly Earle, served 12 terms in N.C. House; John Wall, former West Charlotte High School principal; Isaac Applewhite (D. 4-3-21), a longtime Forum participant and 1977 JCSU graduate, served in many positions with the Mecklenburg Park and Recreation Department.
Feb. 11: Steve Crump, TV broadcaster and documentary filmmaker; Sonja Gantt, TV anchor/reporter, executive director of CMS Foundation; Terrell Ivory, Charlotte-raised, Phillips Academy (Andover, MA) assistant director of admission and basketball coach; Carolyn Mason, general manager, Balloon and Party Service; Garry McFadden, police detective, Mecklenburg Sheriff; Vilma Leake, Independence High teacher, school board member, county commissioner.
Feb. 12: Ericka Ellis-Stewart, donor relations specialist, Mental Health America, former CMS board member, Atrium Health director of corporate social responsibililty; Al Austin, YMCA, JCSU, City Council, NC Dept. of Transportation, Corning Inc.; Darrell Bonapart, Army combat engineer and medic, Black Political Caucus executive board, candidate for office, life insurance agent; Malachi Greene (D. 2-25-16), City Council member, NC Dept. of Transportation executive, teacher, college PR director, contractor; Willie Ratchford, Charlotte Community Relations executive director; Debra Weeks, CEO. C.W. Williams Community Health Center.
Feb. 13: Levester Flowers, retired banker, substitute teacher recruiter, school board candidate, Livingstone College Blue Bears booster; Dr. Wilhelmenia Rembert, former CMS board chair, commissioners vice-chair and member, Winthrop dean and professor of social work; Harvey Gantt, architect, former Charlotte City Council member and mayor, desegregated Clemson in 1973; Ken Simmons, longtime CMS educator and former West Charlotte High principal; Azizi Coleman, Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, Atrium Health clinical research manager; Dr. Patrick Graham, Urban League, Charlotte Works, WeBuild Concord (formerly Concord Family Enrichment Association).
Feb. 14: Corine Mack, labor union contract negotiator, Center for Community Change, Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP president; Ella Scarborough (D. 5-24-22), teenaged civil rights protester, trained librarian, City Council, mayoral and U.S. Senate candidate, county commissioner; Juanita Miller, FBI victim assistance coordinator, Crime Victims Coalition founding president; Vi Lyles, trained facilitator, Charlotte budget director, City Council, mayor; Dorothy Counts Scoggins, integrated Harding High School in 1957, worked in child welfare-focused nonprofits; Sarah Stevenson, helped end separate Black and white PTAs in Mecklenburg, first Black woman on CMS school board.
Feb. 15: Greg Phipps, Comptroller of the Currency bank examiner, Charlotte City Council District 4 and appointed at-large; Bea Thompson, Charlotte’s first Black female TV news anchor, public affairs director for CBS Radio; Joel Ford, serial entrepreneur, N.C. Senate, UNC Board of Governors, employee benefits consultant; Charles Thomas, photographer, Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, Queen City Forward, Knight Foundation Director for Charlotte; LaWana Slack-Mayfield, grassroots activist, City Council District 3 and at-large; Ron Berry, commercial real estate broker, officer for Mecklenburg Democratic Party.
Feb. 16: CMPD Officer JD Willliams, co-creator of Police and Community Together group; Carolyn Logan, Black Women’s Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, first African-American female state trooper for the N.C. Highway Patrol, N.C . House since 2019; Rodney Moore, business consultant, developer, NC House 2011-2018; Eric Erickson, 2017 District 2 Council primary candidate, private police, former deputy sheriff; Blanche Penn, tenants rights activist, Park & Recreation, Silver Fox Senior Cheerleaders, former school board candidate; Terry Bradley, Charlotte Community Relations deputy director, city’s Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator.
Feb. 17: Marcus Jones, City Manager; Sherrell Dorsey, author and business journalist; Gary Young, Black Chamber of Commerce, City Council candidate; Braxton Winston, stagehand, grip, protest leader, City Council at-large; Aretha Blake, District Court judge; Gerald Baucom, Campus Connections program.
Feb. 18: Spencer Merriweather, longtime Mecklenburg prosecutor, District Attorney; Sylvia Grier, Genesis Project 1 management services officer at Genesis Project 1; Rickey Hall, West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, Westside Community Land Trust; Kelly Little, U.S. Army retired, Mecklenburg Child Support Enforcement program supervisor; Carlenia Ivory Cantey, longtime educator and community advocate, appointed to City Council; Justin Harlow, dentist and westside activist, District 2 City Council 2017-2019.
Feb. 19: Garcia Nelson, Genesis Project 1 marketing; Dr. Shanté Williams, chemist, PhD in integrated biomedical science, venture capitalist and CEO of Black Pearl Global Investments; Kareem Puranda, former tough-guy-cop turned mental health counselor; Clarence Armbrister, president of Johnson C. Smith University, 2018-2023; Dr. Joyce Waddell, former District 3 school board member, N.C. Senate since 2015; Teddy McDaniel, Urban League CEO, 2017-2022.
Feb. 20: George Dunlap, CMPD officer retired, chair, Board of County Commissioners; Olga Kearns Billups, Bethlehem Center family case manager; Reginald Johnson, Fire Chief, Charlotte Fire Department; Henry Rock, marketing and advertising career, founder of City Startup Labs; Tyyawdi Hands, District Court judge; Ken Lemon, WSOC-TV reporter.
Feb. 21: Charleston Carter, Mecklenburg’s first African-American Trial Court Administrator, now deputy director of Washington D.C. Superior Court; Keysha Walker Taylor, African-American Community Foundation board chair; John C. Barnett II, advocate for victims of police abuse; Dedrick Russell, WBTV reporter, Gray Television; Monika Rhue, JCSU director of library services now at UCLA; Derek Webber, Battle of the Bands now in Houston.
Feb. 22: Dwayne Collins (D. 8-25-19), activist for justice, devotee of proper men’s wardrobe, former head of NAACP chapter; Tanea McDonald, Charlotte School of Law faculty, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice; Michael Norman, founder of Global Vocational Training Center; Monte Witherspoon, pastor and school board candidate; J’Tanya Adams, Historic West End founder, Council candidate, digital equity advocate; Joel Odom (D. 2-25-21, age 22), Beatties Ford Road corridor advocate and candidate for mayor.
Feb. 23: Delores Johnson Hurt, one of four women who integrated Winthrop in 1964, journalist, educator, League of Women Voters president; Rev. Brenda Stevenson (D. 8-18-21), pastor, commissioners candidate and Hoskins community advocate; Taiwo Jaiyeoba, Charlotte planner and assistant city manager, city manager in Greensboro; Queen Thompson, commissioners and school board candidate, instructor, probation officer, AAUP, justice advocate; Thelma Byers-Bailey, attorney, school board member, president of Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Association; Jessica Davis, trial court official, lawyer, teacher, City Council candidate.
Feb. 24: Aaron Randolph, Carolina Youth Coalition executive director; Dr. Diane Bowles, JCSU vice president, executive director of the Smith Institute for Applied Research; Colette Forrest, People’s Voice Management Group, former Black Political Caucus chair, political campaign consultant; Brittney Johnson, Texas native with stops in Arkansas, Louisiana and six years at WBTV before joining WXAS Dallas/Fort Worth in 2021; Barbara A. Ratliff, senior accounting rep., Clariant Corp., Alexander & Holly Hills Neighborhood Assoc.; Richard McElrath (D. 3-18-20), teacher/coach of math, shop, drama, football, basketball, baseball, track and soccer, CMS Board member, People United for Education, West Side Environmental Coalition, Mixed Income Housing Coalition.
Feb. 25: Dr. Alma Adams, Bennett College art history professor, Greensboro City Council, N.C. House, U.S. House; Ralphine Caldwell, executive director of the Charlotte office of housing and community development funds conduit Local Initiatives Support Corp.; Rev. Dennis Williams, pastor, former CMS educator; Earnest Winston, print journalist, CMS staffer, superintendent; Gwen Forney, executive director of school attendance advocate Bright Hopes Inc.; Dr. Shanté Williams, angel investor, head of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce.
Feb. 26: Tiffany Waddell, City of Charlotte administrative management division manager; Dr. Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg County health director; Sherri Chisholm, Leading on Opportunity executive director; Dr. Malcolm Butler, UNCC Cato College of Education dean; Michelle Mattison, Realtor, Community Dream Builders; Cozzie Watkins (D. 3-2-23), nurse, Democratic Party activist, Planning Commission.
Feb. 27: Aaron Means, IBM executive, chapter president of 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte; Dr. Fostoria Pierson, Charlotte chapter of Blue Star Mothers; Rachelle Latimer, EEO program consultants TRS&I Group; Charis Blackmon, West Side Charlotte Land Trust; Cynthia Wallace, New Rural Project co-founder, candidate for Congress; Donald Cureton, public defender, District Court judge, Superior Court judge.
Feb. 28: Jared Keaton, CEO of Alliance Center for Education, the former Bethlehem Center; Simone Williams, attorney, Council for Children’s Rights volunteer; Dr. Ricky A. Woods, senior pastor at First Baptist Church-West; Qiana Austin, Foundation for the Carolinas scholarships program officer; Dr. Thomas Moore, early childhood educator; Lezlie Briggs, City of Charlotte Americans with Disabilities Act specialist.