Black History Month provides an opportunity to look back at how African-Americans have influenced society, but sometimes we overlook the progress happening before our eyes.
The Herald Weekly takes a look at 12 African-Americans who continue to shape Lake Norman through their careers and service to the community.
• Brian Barnett – Barnett became town manager of Catawba in 2010 after three years working as a budget analyst for the Town of Mooresville. He returned to Mooresville in February 2013 to serve as the town’s deputy finance director, a role in which he digs deep into a budget of $76 million.
• Tanya Blackmon – Blackmon has overseen hospital expansions and a rebranding effort since becoming president of Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center in 2009. The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce recognized her in 2013, however, for community service. Blackmon is among community leaders participating in a 90-day fitness challenge to inspire healthy lifestyles in Huntersville.
• De’Mon Brooks – Brooks, a 2010 graduate of Hopewell High School, leads the Davidson Wildcats men’s basketball team in scoring (18.4 per game) and rebounding (7.1). The senior forward earned Southern Conference Player of the Week honors twice in three weeks this season. Davidson ranks first in its conference.
• Robin Emmons – The Huntersville resident was selected as a CNN Heroes finalist last year for founding Sow Much Good, a nonprofit that promotes food justice. Forbes profiled the nonprofit in December in its “12 Days of Charitable Giving” series. Healthcare company Aetna recently included Emmons in its 2014 calendar of African-Americans who are helping create sustainable communities.
• Cherie Fields – Fields manages Iron Tribe Fitness, a Huntersville company that is donating free studio time and resources toward a 90-day challenge to inspire a healthier community in Huntersville. Fields uses her background in public relations to instill fitness in others.
• Chris Hailey – Hailey heads up Central Piedmont Community College’s public safety and health department in Huntersville, which provides the Charlotte region with well-trained first-responders. He previously served as a member of the N.C. State Highway Patrol. He’s running for Mecklenburg County sheriff, too.
• Joan Higginbotham – The former NASA astronaut was the third African-American woman in space. She now oversees community relations for Mooresville-based Lowe’s Corporate. In 2013, she spoke about her 13 days in space during a United Way appreciation event.
• Crystal Hill – The former Park View Elementary principal returned to the Mooresville Graded School District in 2011 to lead Rocky River Elementary.She was quickly promoted in 2012 to the central office, where works as executive director of elementary education and federal programs.
• Anita Robinson – Robinson, who works as principal of Pumpkin Center Primary School in Denver, graduated from East Lincoln High School in 1985. She returned to Lincoln County Schools in 1992 to begin her teaching career. She’s also served as principal of Jack Kiser Intermediate in Lincolnton.
• Leon Pridgen – Pridgen works as an actor, author and speaker for Discovery Education. A proponent of the Mooresville Graded School District and its digital learning efforts, Pridgen was elected to the school board in November 2013.
• Thurman Ross – After 16 years as a Cornelius commissioner, Ross lost his 2011 re-election campaign by a handful of votes. His efforts to personally reach more voters paid off in 2013, when they put him back in office. He and fellow commissioners will oversee $20 million in recently approved bond projects.
• Darrell Wallace Jr. – Wallace drives for Mooresville-based Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Last season, Wallace became the first African-America to win a NASCAR race since 1963. He was also named to Forbes 30 Under 30 List in January.