The International Civil Rights Center and Museum Gala in downtown Greensboro is the museum’s biggest fundraiser each year, and, this year, it will take place on Saturday, July 20 – and the Museum leaders have a lot planned for the evening.

For one thing, educator, theologian, civil rights leader and syndicated columnist Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. – who is, by the way, credited with coining the term “environmental racism” – will be the 2024 recipient of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum’s highest award: The Alston/Jones Award, named for the Museum’s two founders, Skip Alston and Earl Jones.

This award, which is a “formal recognition honoring significant contributors to the advancement of civil rights,” will be given to Chavis at the Museum’s annual Gala on July 20.

Chavis (pictured above) replaces the originally announced recipient, US Congressman Kweisi Mfume, who has expressed his regrets at being unable to attend the Gala “in view of recent developments in the State of Maryland and the attention due from a member of Congress in response to the current electoral situation.”

The Rhino Times is not exactly sure what that means; however, whatever the case, Mfume can’t make it to the Gala.

Each year, the large fund-raising Gala celebrates the racial integration of the F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter in the summer of 1960 when four NC A&T students sat down at a whites-only lunch counter and refused to leave.

The fundraising Gala will be held at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center this year.
The evening event will follow a series of activities throughout the day, including opportunities at the Civil Rights Museum for members of the press to interview the multiple award recipients at the F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter before they leave at 4:45 p.m. to greet guests at a 5 p.m. VIP reception.
This reception, which is by invitation only, will take place at the Koury Convention Center and be followed by the main program at 6 p.m.

The evening will conclude with a dance with music provided by a prominent DJ at the Four Seasons Club. Admission to the dance is included with the cost of dinner tickets.
Chavis has taken a role at Duke University as the 2024 Environmental Justice and Racial Equity Fellow. According to the University, the purpose of that position is to connect “the fellow’s contributions in teaching, research, and service with Duke’s larger strategic goals” related to climate change and racial equity – to which Chavis has devoted much of his career.

This includes his service as former director and CEO of the NAACP. As the founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, in 1995 he served as the national director and organizer of the “Million Man March” in Washington, DC.

In addition to Dr. Chavis, the museum will hand out awards to William Bell, former mayor of the City of Durham, and Heather Booth, an activist and strategist focused on racial and women’s equality.
Dorothy “Dot” Kendall Kearns, the first woman member and chair of the Guilford County Board of Supervisors, will also be honored for her long-standing service to the community, and Guilford County Commissioner Frankie Jones Jr. – “a civically involved financial legal specialist” – will also be honored.
Another award will be given to Yvonne Lyons Cooper-Revell – a Bennett College participant during the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins at the Greensboro Woolworth’s.