Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Annual Tribute Luncheon Tomorrow

Durham's Annual Tribute Luncheon is a celebration of an aspect of Durham's unique sense of place and Durham has a lot to celebrate. There are 400 people expected to attend tomorrow at Bay 7 - the event is completely sold out.

Durham's attributes are well covered by media, but this annual event is about digging deeper into understanding and appreciating how the place became that which it is.  This year's theme is Great Families Make Great Things Happen.

Years past have seen chefs, architects and civic leaders honored. This year the McKissick, Rand and Teer families will be honored for the contributions that generations of their families have made to Durham. Their roles in developing Durham—particularly as a visitor destination—have been long-lasting and significant, and are ongoing.

The McKissick Family
A family of social change makers, the McKissicks’ contribution to the advancement of race relations is renowned throughout the South and the country. The late Floyd McKissick, Sr., an attorney and professor of Law at NC Central University, and his late wife, Evelyn, were instrumental in the integration of Durham Public Schools. Their children, Andree and Joycelyn, were among the first African-American children to be integrated into the schools.  
While each family member can boast a long list of notable contributions to the community, their collective impact on the civil rights movement and the lives of untold African-American families is tremendous. Evelyn, a well-known advocate for children’s well-being and development, began what eventually became the model for government program Head Start, providing grants to ensure that economically disadvantaged children are being looked after by agencies engaged in their welfare.  
The current generation of McKissicks—like those before them—leads very public lives. Notably, Floyd Jr. holds an elected seat in the NC Senate, and Charmaine McKissick-Melton is deeply involved with the Pauli Murray Project and historic preservation in Durham. The work of this family is felt every day across the country, in all of its corners.
The Rand Family
A family of entrepreneurs, the Rands began their legacy in the Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company over a century ago. William Kenan Rand, Jr. succeeded his father, a Coca-Cola bottler for 55 years, in 1961 and became the president of the company. In 1960, the Rand family developed Northgate Shopping Center, now one of the few remaining family owned and operated regional malls in the country. They also started Classic Food Services as a division of Durham Coca-Cola Bottling; it is one of Durham’s caterers capable of very large scale events, and offers contract services, as well. 
The Rand family’s remarkable contributions to the community include service in the development of a number of local projects, including the NC Museum of Life & Science and Durham County General Hospital, now known as Durham Regional. They are ardent supporters of the arts with the board room of the Durham Arts Council named for the family.  The family has proven itself again and again as strong advocates for Durham’s parks, greenways, and appearance with, among other things, continued investment in the appearance and functionality of Northgate Mall.
The Teer Family
A family of economic developers, the Teer family’s construction business has a strong history in Durham and the region. The Nello L. Teer Company is now one of the nation’s largest construction companies, and has made significant cosmetic and infrastructural contributions to Durham’s development for over a century. The Teer family was involved in the development of NC’s Blue Ridge Parkways as well as the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the Radisson Hotel RTP, and Blue Cross-Blue Shield’s iconic building. Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University and many university buildings would not exist were it not for the Teer family involvement. 
The family’s impact on the Bull City is far more than face value. The Teers have been deeply involved in the community as activists, advisors, and advocates. Avid arts supporters, the Durham Performing Arts Center’s main stage is named in the Teer family’s honor. Durham arguably would not look, or feel, the same today without the efforts of the Teer family. Beyond physical structures, the family has also diligently built Durham from the inside, too, with a rich and distinguished past of public service roles from the school board to the city council, as well as roles in many Durham community organizations.
The luncheon is always an event to remember and would not be possible without the generosity of its sponsors and those who attend.

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