Keynote speaker

On Sunday, the keynote speaker during the Pauli Murray Awards Ceremony was Dr. Blair L.M. Kelly, Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies and International Programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at N.C. State University.

On Sunday, an Orange County resident, business, and several students were honored for their dedication to justice and equality.

Orange County presented the 29th Annual Pauli Murray Awards on Feb. 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Whitted Building in Hillsborough. Each year, these awards are presented to an adult and business that embody the mission and spirit of The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray, a civil rights and women’s rights activist who was a lawyer, the first African-American female Episcopal Priest, an author, and a staunch advocate for gender equality.

Established in 1990, these awards serve to commemorate the life of Murray, (1910-1985), who lived in Durham in her most formative years as a teenager, and confronted discrimination, racism, and sexism in her own life with service and action.

The 2019 Pauli Murray awards were presented to Lorie Clark, the adult recipient, and Joe Van Gogh, business awardee.

Clark has spent extensive time as part of the staff for the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, “where she provides students opportunities, resources, and enrichment to be successful in high school and beyond,” according to a release from the county.

Joe Van Gogh was nominated and presented with this honor because owner Robbie Roberts is someone who “values diversity in his establishment and shows appreciation for employees,” the release noted. He shows this appreciation through his certification as an Orange County Living Wage employer.

Businesses and adults are nominated by their peers online prior to the ceremony. This year’s deadline was Jan. 21.

These awards are usually paired with a student essay contest.

This year, essay submissions for the 2019 Student Essay Contest were based on the prompt, “What do you feel was Pauli Murray’s biggest contribution to the lives of women and/or people of color?” In the students’ response, they were also asked to describe in their essay “a meaningful personal experience that reflects the acceptance of, or advocacy for, diversity and inclusion.” These submissions were due by Jan. 21. The 2019 winners of the student essay in the contest are:

Middle School: Jordan Huang, Guy B. Phillips Middle School; Annie Papazaglou, McDougle Middle School.

High School: Hannalee Isaacs, Chapel Hill High School.

During the award ceremony, a keynote address was given by Dr. Blair L.M. Kelley, Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies and International Programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at N.C. State University.

Kelley is the author of "Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson," which won the 2010 Letitia Woods Brown Best Book Award from the Association of Black Women Historians. Her list of achievements is extensive: she has been a guest on NPR’s “Here & Now,” MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show” and “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “Democracy Now,” and WUNC’s “The State of Things.”

According to the release, Kelley has provided expert commentary for the “New York Times,” “The Washington Post,” “The Melissa Harris Perry Show,” and “The Associated Press.” She has written for “The Washington Post,”,,,, and “Jet Magazine.”

Following the awards and presentation from Kelley, a reception followed.