The 37th Annual Giant Awards and Banquet

by WLM

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.

Walter Coe
Public Service Award
Mari Beth Johnson-Jelks

Eugene Browning
Medical Service Award
Jason Slaikeu MD, MBA

W.W. Plummer
Humanitarian Award

LaSandra A. Gaddy

Ethel Coe Humanities Award
Lisa M. Knight

Milo Brown Business Award
Troy Yarbrough
of Preferred
Construction Group

Phyllis Scott Activist Award
Cole Williams

William Glenn
Trailblazer Award
Victoria Ann Upton (Posthumously)

Raymond Tardy
Community Service Award
India Manns

H.C. Toliver
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



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