Written by: Morgan Yeatts
For two years now, the Academy Center of the Arts has partnered with Alpha Phi Alpha, the first African American greek fraternity, to present The Best of Us, an awards ceremony dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the Black community, organizations, and individuals who have made contributions in the Lynchburg area.
This year, over 330 people attended the ceremony, which was held on Saturday, February 2, 2019, in the Joy & Lynch Christian Warehouse Theatre. The numerous awards included Best Businesswoman, Best Businessman, Best Barbershop, and three Lifetime Achievement awards.
“There are a lot of people in our community who are honored, but don’t get recognition,” says Evan Smith, Director of Community Outreach here at the Academy. “I think it’s important to be able to recognize people who have made great contributions to our community.”
Members of the community who were awarded include Ethel Reeves, who received the Mary Kinkle Award for Best Educator, musician Lew Taylor, winner of the Entertainer of the Year award, and Lynchburg Police Officer, Tereika Grooms, who won the Millenial of the Year award. The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement awards were Fletcher Hubbard, Mary Payne, and Willie Thornhill.
“This event helps us engage the community,” says Smith, “and help them to feel welcome at the Academy, and hopefully want to return.”