Durham holds Human Relations Awards ceremony

By Brittney Jenkins
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

A diverse crowd filled the seats of the Durham City Council Chambers at City Hall on Feb. 23 as four local movers and shakers received the city’s 2012 Human Relations Awards.

Stephanie Williams, Mike Shiflett, J. Michael Woodard and Barbara Lau were this year’s winners.

Stephanie Williams won the Human Relations Fair Housing Award, presented by the Human Relations Manager Delilah Donaldson.

From the Human Relations Award ceremony, (far left) Commissioner Chair Norris Wicker, and Award recipients (from left to right): Mike Shiflett, Barbara Lau, Stephanie Williams and J. Michael Woodard, Human Relations Manager, Delilah Donaldson and Commissioner Steven Lee. (Staff photo by Brittney Jenkins)

A housing specialist for The Durham Center, Williams was recognized for her efforts to help people with behavior and health issues and for snagging a $300,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help start two housing programs.

Mike Shiflett won the Community Housing Award. Shiflett was recognized for his volunteer work with 49 organizations throughout the community. Presenter Delilah Donaldson also shared that Shiflett is a 17-gallon blood donor.

J. Michael Woodard won the Human Rights Award which was presented by Commissioner Steven Lee.

“As this hangs on my wall, this award will inspire me to work harder,” said Woodard.

The Carlie B. Sessoms award was given to Barbara Lau, Director of the Pauli Murray Project. She dedicated her award to Pauli Murray.

After each winner was announced, the audience gave them a standing ovation.

Constance Stancil, Director of the Department of Neighborhood Improvement Services, welcomed and thanked the crowd for coming out to the event before introducing the Mistress of Ceremony for the night, Commissioner Joy Morgan of the Durham Human Relations Commission. The theme of the night was “Moving Durham forward to a new era of human and civil rights.”

Morgan gave the audience something to take with them to help everyone become a better person: the 10 Commandments of Human Relations.

The commandments included, “Be friendly and helpful towards people”, “Be genuinely interested in a person” and “Be eager to give a helping hand.”

The ceremony also included comments from the Human Relations Commissioner, Norris Wicker.

“This year, the Human Relations Committee is venturing out into the community and trying to reach out to the different ethnic groups and cultures in our community with a goal, at some point, of being able to bring everybody together so that we can ultimately get along,” Wicker said.

The closing remarks of the night came from one of the winners, J. Michael Woodard. He left the audience with the quote “Do a little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

“We try to honor people who actually are leaving a legacy even as they are living today,” said Morgan.

Web links: http://durhamnc.gov/ich/cb/nis/Pages/HumanRelations.aspx