On Saturday, Feb. 23, the 37th annual Giants Awards and Banquet will honor and celebrate 13 African American individuals or organizations for their exemplary service to the Grand Rapids community.
Founded by Dr. Patricia Pulliam and Cedric Ward in 1983, the Giants Awards are organized by The Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion at Grand Rapids Community College.
Each Giants Award category is named after a historical African American leader who incited change in Grand Rapids, such as Floyd Skinner, Ethel Coe and Milo Brown. Through their devotion and passion for equality, these pioneers brought employment rights, arts participation and business opportunities to people of color in Grand Rapids and laid the groundwork for future generations of advocates. The awards are given to those who currently exemplify these original initiatives through their participation in the community. This year’s recipients include Victoria Ann Upton (posthumously) (William Glenn Trailblazer Awards), India Manns (Raymond Tardy Community Service Award) and Lisa M. Knight (Ethel Coe Humanities Award).
The Giants Awards and Banquet celebration was previously held at the Ford Field House on GRCC’s campus, but due to steadily increasing attendance, it expanded to Devos Place in 2010 where it has been held ever since. All proceeds from the event are given to the GRCC Foundation’s Milo M. Brown Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to two African American students attending GRCC as full-time returning sophomores.
Always a highlight of the ceremony is the much-anticipated reveal of the Giant Among Giants Award. This honor is bestowed upon a previous Giants Award recipient who continues to demonstrate extraordinary dedication to advancing the mission of equality throughout our city.
Previous awardees include superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools Teresa Weatherall Neal and internationally renowned local artist Paul Collins. Civil Rights icon and the first African American woman president of the National YWCA, Helen Claytor, was the first recipient of the award at the inaugural celebration in 1983.
2019 Giants Award Honorees
Floyd Skinner Justice Award
Not awarded this year.
Public Service Award
Mari Beth Johnson-Jelks
Medical Service Award
Jason Slaikeu MD, MBA
LaSandra A. Gaddy
Ethel Coe Humanities Award
Lisa M. Knight
Milo Brown Business Award
Phyllis Scott Activist Award
Victoria Ann Upton (Posthumously)
Community Service Award
Religious Life Award
Bishop Dennis J. McMurray & Dr. E. Jean Lackey-McMurray
Hattie Beverly Education Award
Not awarded this year.
Martha Reynolds Labor Award
Carrie L. Jackson
Founder of Women’s LifeStyle Magazine Victoria Ann Upton is the winner of the William Glenn Trailblazer Award (posthumously) at this year’s Giant’s Awards and Banquet.
What: The 37th Annual Giants Awards & Banquet
Where: DeVos Place, 303 Monroe Ave NW
When: February 23 at 6 p.m.
Cost: $100 Individual Ticket