AT&T unveils heritage calendar


Among the honorees was the state's first African-American State Supreme Court Justice, members of the Greensboro Four. In all, 16 heavyweights made up a diverse class of often unsung heroes unveiled in the calendar.

"We wanted to have African-Americans, but also people who are not African-Americans," said AT&T North Carolina President Cynthia Marshall.

Hundreds attended a gala for the honorees inside the Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh.

Honorees like Joseph McNeil, who was one of four North Carolina A&T students who launched the lunch counter sit-ins in Greensboro, sparked a nationwide movement.

"We're people of conscious and ordinary people can make a difference," said McNeil.

Retired Congresswoman Eva Clayton, who was North Carolina's first African-American congresswoman, initially ran for office at the peak of the civil rights movement. She lost in 1968 around the time of Martin Luther King Junior's assassination.

"The tragedy around his death just galvanized the significance of what it meant to be engaged in voter registration or to be engaged in civil rights or to be engaged in the fight for social justice," said Clayton.

Justice Henry Frye, who was the first African-American State Supreme Court Chief Justice, said the calendar will serve as a record of their stories and serve as a call to action for future generations.

"And by being able to have that sense of history, hopefully they will be inspired to be a part of history in a good way," said Frye.

A few of the honorees like legendary UNC Basketball Coach Dean Smith had others accept the award in their honor.

AT&T has teamed up with UNC's journalism school to write and produce biographies for each honoree.

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