Honors, celebrations and a promotion

Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.

5/30/2013, 6 a.m.


“I Remember, I Believe,” the Georgia Department of Transportation’s acclaimed film documenting the discovery and relocation of what is believed to be a lost Middle Georgia slave cemetery, has been selected for two gold prize awards from nearly 80 worldwide entries in an international film festival devoted to exploring human culture. The 33-minute film, which focuses on efforts at the Avondale Burial Place in Bibb County, received the Best Script and Best Music awards at the Archaeology Channel’s International Film and Video Festival. “I Remember, I Believe,” a department collaboration with Georgia Public Broadcasting, New South Associates Inc., and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), also was cited by festival judges for honorable mention (being among the top three entries) in the Best Film, Best Public Education Value, Best Cinematography and Most Inspirational categories. “I Remember, I Believe” can be viewed at www.avondaleburialplace.org


The Honor Flight program of Northeast Indiana gives a long overdue “thank you” to World War II veterans by flying them to Washington, D.C., for a day to visit the WWII Memorial and other sites—all free of charge. Ninety- and 91-years-old, Al Stiles and Charles Moses were the first African American World War II veterans in the region to ever go on an Honor Flight. Both Moses and Stiles said they feel blessed and honored to be part of the program, and hope their life experiences can serve as example to young African American men.

North Carolina

Wells Fargo recently named Michelle Thornhill, senior vice president, as strategy and integration manager reporting directly to the head of Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion. For the last five years, Thornhill served as the African American segment manager. In this role, she led the development and execution of the enterprise marketing and engagement strategy for African American consumers and communities. As strategy and integration manager, Thornhill is now responsible for providing strategic leadership consultation in support of the company’s diversity and inclusion business goals and objectives. Thornhill will focus on developing the enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion implementation strategy. As the central facilitator of strategic planning and coordination for this area, her role involves partnering with Wells Fargo leaders and key stakeholder groups to support them in their efforts to strengthen and sustain an inclusive culture for the company.


Basketball legend, entrepreneur and philanthropist Earvin “Magic” Johnson helped kick off the 2013 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and Expo hosted by Nationwide Insurance. The conference is the nation’s premier business resource for African Americans and was held for the first time at the Columbus Convention Center. “This is an amazing conference because it provides a great platform for African American entrepreneurs to share ideas, network and ultimately grow their businesses,” said Johnson who hosted a “fireside” chat with more than 1,200 conference attendees and members of the community.


ESPN’s 13th nationally ranked high school wide receiver and Franklin D. Watkins Award honoree Jordan Cunningham unveiled a six-point plan for school district collaboration with high school football and effective leadership development programs recently. Through the Watkins Award, the National Alliance of African American Athletes offers such a program, which this year recognized the four most accomplished leaders and nationally ranked athletes. However, these athletes, as Watkins Award Committee chair, Alexander L. Gabbin emphasized, “are also among the smartest men in the country.” Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie indicated that he was “truly inspired by Jordan Cunningham’s initiative” and that he believes that elements of the plan may significantly support the district’s commitment to improving the performance of Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) in general and African American male students in particular.