SC Black Hall of Fame to induct 11 - - Columbia, South Carolina |

SC Black Hall of Fame to induct 11

James Talley, Traci Cooper James Talley, Traci Cooper
James Sanders, Heyward Bannister James Sanders, Heyward Bannister
Isaac Wilborn, Rubye Johnson Isaac Wilborn, Rubye Johnson
Frank Neely, Herbert Fielding Frank Neely, Herbert Fielding
Charles Thomas, Eugene Allen Charles Thomas, Eugene Allen

(Undated) July 21, 2005 - On Friday night, 11 more people will be inducted into the South Carolina Black Hall of Fame.

Inductee Heyward Bannister went from picking cotton to working for the President of United States Hall of Fame. Honoree Heyward Bannister says he's done many things throughout the course of his life, "I think the joy of it all is that I'm able to reflect on my life and know that it has not been in vain."

Now he's the director of Fannie Mae's South Carolina Partnership, where his mission is tearing down and removing barriers to home ownership, "It's very important for young people to know there are pioneers, there are heros and sheros, and they are people who have paved the way."

Other hall of fame honorees will include:

Eugene Allen
Gene Allen has held multiple positions of distinction as a military officer, corporate executive, college administrator, and foundation leader. After 22 years of duty in the US Air Force, he worked four years as manager of engineering at Hershey Foods Corporation followed by 15 years with E.I. DuPont Company, much of which was at the plant in Camden , South Carolina . He spent four years in Orangeburg as instructor in a DuPont‑sponsored business management program at South Carolina State University , and he also served as executive assistant to the president at Claflin University. In 1997, Mr. Allen joined the board of Richland Memorial Hospital Foundation in Columbia as chairman of the investment committee. He provided leadership of the highest caliber and, when the hospital merged with Baptist Medical Center , he was appointed president of the newly formed Palmetto Health Foundation. Before retiring in December 2004, he helped to create a development plan for the Foundation and now it manages over $35 million in assets, more than some Columbia banks. The income generated by these monies is used by Palmetto Health to fund such needs as new equipment, facilities renovations and enrichment programs. Mr. Allen was born in Steelton , PA , as the youngest of 10 siblings. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming and a master's degree in industrial engineering and computer science at Texas Tech University .

Heyward Bannister
A native of Gadsden, Heyward Bannister serves as director of Fannie Mae's South Carolina Partnership office, which helps increase affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for low‑to‑middle income families and first‑time home buyers. He manages a five‑year, $6 billion investment plan to increase affordable housing for 65,000 South Carolinians . Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Mr. Bannister worked with the Clinton Administration and was appointed White House Liaison for the Department of Veteran Affairs, where he served a personal adviser and consultant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Throughout his professional career, he has been active in many community organizations, including the Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and the South Carolina Educational Television Endowment. Bannister was instrumental in revitalizing the Stone of Hope project at Martin Luther King Park through his fund raising efforts. He provides strong leadership for the East Central City Consortium, which is an effort to revitalize twelve inner city neighborhoods in Columbia . As an advocate for the SC Conference of Black Mayors, he serves as a connector and advisor for black elected officials across the state. In his role as a board member for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, he is working to fight for the rights of abused and neglected children in Richland County . He also takes pride in being a life member of the NAACP . He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of South Carolina . In 1986, he became a co-founder of Sunrise Enterprises of Columbia, the first African-American owned statewide public relations firm in South Carolina . Sunrise handled some of the most highly visible marketing and public relations campaigns in the state. Eventually, Bannister would divest his interests in Sunrise to become the sole owner and President of BANCO/Bannister Company of Columbia . In this capacity, he continued to manage statewide public relations, political and marketing campaigns for high profile clients. As a past resident of public housing, Mr. Bannister was honored by being inducted into the Columbia Housing Authority’s Wall of Fame for his work in public service.

Herbert U. Fielding
A Charleston native, Herbert U. Fielding made history in 1970 as one of the first three Black citizens elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives since Reconstruction. After serving three years in the U.S. Army during World War II, and after graduating from West Virginia State University in 1948, he joined his family business and became affiliated with the Charleston NAACP and Charleston Citizens Committee. He was a founder and first president of the Political Action Committee of Charleston, a pioneering civil rights organization. Mr. Fielding made two unsuccessful runs for the state legislature in 1952 and in1968. After winning on his third try, he became a powerful presence in the South Carolina Democratic Party and was instrumental in securing appointment of many African Americans to state boards and commissions. He was very active in the forming of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission and later worked with the Commission in getting South Carolina Fair Housing Laws passed. From 1984 to 1992, Mr. Fielding served in the South Carolina Senate as Deputy Majority Whip, member of the Democratic Leadership Council, and Chairman of the Charleston County Senate Delegation and the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. He recently retired from legislative lobbing and public relations work, but remains active as vice president/comptroller at Fielding Home for Funerals.

Annie Thelma McRae Harrison
Thelma Harrison's career experiences in education, religion and civic activities are indicative of her high level of competence and skill in many endeavors. For 34 years, she served in Richland School District One as an English teacher and was often cited for educational excellence. Among her achievements: the Superintendent of Education twice selected her as a Curriculum Fellow in Language Arts; the Richland County Education Association honored her with its Human Relations Award; and the Columbia Chapter of the Association of Childhood Education awarded her first prize in a contest for creative teaching. Mrs. Harrison's religious contributions are equally outstanding. She is an active member of Lebanon Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Ridgeway , SC , where she was the first woman to be elected Clerk of Session in its 119 years of existence. She held many leadership positions with the Fairfield McClelland Presbytery prior to the merger of the Southern and Northern Presbyterian streams. At the Synod level, she serve five years as the moderator of the Committee of Women of Color for the Synod of South Atlantic of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She also was the first Black woman to serve with the Women's Ministry Unity for the Synod. Mrs. Harrison has received numerous citations and recognitions for her work to better mankind. Her community involvements include the National Association of University Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Ebony Keys, Daughter of Isis, NAACP, and the Democratic Party. She holds the A.B. degree from Johnson C. Smith University and the M.A. degree from Columbia University .

Rubye J. Johnson
Rubye J. Johnson has brought distinction to herself as a woman committed to helping improve the quality of life for over 20,000 indigent families. She is chief executive officer of Wateree Community Actions in Sumter , an agency serving residents in Clarendon, Kershaw, Lee, Richland and Sumter counties. During 38 years of public service, Dr. Johnson has been extremely concerned about designing projects to uplift needy Blacks and Whites in rural areas and small towns. Her initiatives include Housing for the Homeless, Meals on Wheels for the Homebound, After School Tutorial and Mentoring, Home Weatherization, Home Energy Assistance, Head Start Childhood Development, Youth Leadership and Character Development, Employment Training for Youth and Adults, and Rental and Medical Assistance. In addition to being the executive administrator, Dr. Johnson is the primary resource developer for Wateree Community Actions. In 1996, a new Head Start Child Development Center was erected in Sumter and named in her honor. The Lancaster native is a former high school teacher who holds the B.A. degree from Benedict College and the M.A. degree from Columbia University Teachers College . She has been the recipient of more than two dozens citations and awards, including an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Benedict College in May 2005.

Frank J. Neely
Frank J. Neely has achieved outstanding business success and has used that success to help others. He is chief operating officer of 7 Star Construction Company in Rock Hill and manages a staff of 50 employees. Mr. Neely also serves as CEO of Rejoice Inc. in Gastonia , NC , overseeing three radio stations and 10 employees in Aiken, Augusta , Charlotte , Rock Hill and Chester areas. He provides marketing and training skills for personnel of the stations aired on 94.7 FM, 1370 FM, and 1490 AM. 7 Star Construction Company has worked on highway projects for both the South Carolina Department of Transportation and North Carolina Department of Transportation—work such as highway widening, curb and gutter sidewalks, storm drainage, and asphalt paving. The company has also done work on housing projects for Columbia Housing Authority, neighborhood improvement projects for the City of Charlotte , and a two‑mile sewer extension project for Midland , NC . Mr. Neely plays an important role in business, civic and religious affairs in Rock Hill , where his affiliations include the NAACP's board of directors and BB&T's Advisory Board. He was named Carolina Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 1990. Earlier in his career, from 1974 to 1979, he was operator‑field superintendent for Callahan Grading Company in York , SC. From 1979 to 1987, he operated his first business, Neely Landscaping, Inc. in Rock Hill .
Rev. James Sanders Senior, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Gaffney for 56 years
Annie Harrison, retired English teacher of 34 years in Richland District One
James Talley, the former mayor of Spartanburg from 1993-2002

Traci Young Cooper
One only needs to observe Traci Young Cooper's many accomplishments to understand why she is considered one of the Palmetto State 's outstanding secondary educators with both classroom and administrative experiences at the school, district and state levels. Mrs. Cooper was recipient of the 2001 Richland County School District One Teacher of the Year, the 2002 C.A. Johnson Preparatory Academy Teacher of the Year, and the distinguished 2002 South Carolina State Teacher of the Year. Additionally, she represented the state of South Carolina in the National Teacher of the Year competition in 2002. She also participated in the inaugural class of the South Carolina Educational Policy Fellows Program, and was a Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program participant to Tokyo , Japan. During her State Teacher of the Year sabbatical, Mrs. Cooper successfully chaired the South Carolina Teacher Forum and worked in leadership positions with several divisions of the South Carolina State Department of Education. She currently serves as an assistant principal of Alcorn Middle School and is active in numerous educational, cultural and civic organizations. Mrs. Cooper attended Columbia public schools, earned a B.A. degree in English from Georgetown University , Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of South Carolina , Education Specialist degree from South Carolina State University , and is pursing a doctorate degree. She resides in Blythewood with her husband, Dr. Noble P. Cooper, Jr., and their three children.
Frank Neely, CEO of Seven Star Construction in Rock Hill

James W. Sanders, Sr.
Pastor, educator, community leader, and political activist are few of the roles James William Sanders, Sr. has managed successfully in his life. He began his ministry in 1946 at Corinth Baptist Church , Union , as a high school junior. He has been pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Gaffney for 56 years and pastor of Island Creek Baptist Church for 34 years. His religious affiliations include moderator of Thickety Mountain Baptist Association for 33 years and past president of the Cherokee County Black Ministerial Alliance. Dr. Sanders earned his B.A. degree from Benedict College and studied additionally at Starks School of Theology. He later received a M.S. degree from North Carolina A&T University and was awarded honorary doctoral degrees from Friendship and Morris Colleges . Throughout the years, Dr. Sanders has held positions of enormous influence as a former vice principal of Sims High School in Union ; an official of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina; former member of the trustee boards of the Morris College and South Carolina State University ; past chairman of the Appalachian Council of Governments—serving six Upstate counties; chairman of the regional Council on Aging; member of the Cherokee County Election Commission; and past first vice president of the Cherokee Democratic Party. He recently was appointed by Governor Sanford to the Santee Cooper Board of Directors.

James E. Talley
Upstate citizens have great esteem and unending admiration for the extraordinary career success of James E. Talley—former teacher, coach, and mayor of the City of Spartanburg from May 10, 1993 until January 6, 2002 . Mayor Talley graduated from Spartanburg 's Carver High School in 1959 and earned a B.S. degree in mathematics from Livingstone College in Salisbury , NC . He continued his studies at the University of South Carolina , Converse College and South Carolina State University , and received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from USC. Dr. Talley worked in Spartanburg District 7 School System for 27 years. He coached football, baseball and swimming at Spartanburg High School and was assistant football coach at Wofford College from 1981 to 1994. Elected to the Spartanburg City Council in 1982, his leadership abilities were put to use in numerous civic and community endeavors. He was mayor pro tem at the time of the resignation of the previous mayor and served the six‑month unexpired term. He ran for a four‑year term in November 1993 and won by a landslide, receiving 75 percent of the vote. His achievements as mayor include co‑chairman of the Spartanburg Development Association, chairman of the Spartanburg Area Transportation Study, founder of the Mayor's Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities, and president of the South Carolina Municipal Association. Among his many awards is a State of South Carolina House of Representatives Recognition for Outstanding Service as Mayor of Spartanburg.

Charles H. Thomas, Jr.
The late Charles H. Thomas, Jr. left a full legacy of service to African American higher education and civil rights. He served as a principal of several schools, and as a professor at South Carolina State University , the University of the District of Columbia , and Claflin University He taught students that commitment to human dignity must be unconditional. Dr. Thomas founded the South Carolina Voter Education Project in 1962 and is remembered for registering thousands of Black citizens. His work with the NAACP often brought him into direct confrontation with the state's White law enforcement officials, and he was jailed many times for leading sits‑ins and other nonviolent demonstration against racial segregation practices. He made numerous personal sacrifices by posting bond for hundreds of students, including his own children, who were incarcerated for demanding their civil rights. In 1969, President Nixon appointed him Director of Equal Employment Opportunities for the U.S. Postal System in Washington , DC . Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman were among the influential people who helped him advance his political and civic dreams. Dr. Thomas died in 1977 and is still highly respected and revered in Orangeburg, where he lived most of his life and studied for his B.S. and M.S. degrees at South Carolina State . He later matriculated at Tuskegee Institute and earned his doctoral degree at the University of Oklahoma.

Rev. Isaac W. Wilborn, Jr.
Every community deserves a leader like Rev. Isaac W. Wilborn, Jr. For more than four decades, he has been a mover and shaker in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Rev. Wilborn spent 29 years as a teacher and principal on Hilton Head Island . He retired from the ministry in October 2004 after serving 13 years in pastorates at Allen Chapel AME Church and Campbell Chapel AME Church . He is currently chairman of the board of directors of Palmetto Electric Cooperative, Inc. and board member of Hilton Head Regional Medical Center . Additionally, Rev. Wilborn was an organizing member of WHHR Radio Station and Hilton Head National Bank. His other community affiliations have included president of Beaufort County Education Association, member of the Beaufort County Higher Education Commission, chairman of the Beaufort‑Jasper Mental Health Association, president of Hilton Head Island Human Relations Council, vice president of the Hilton Head Island Community Association, member of the Lowcountry Resource Conservation and Development Advisory Committee, trustee of Hilton Head Hospital , and chairman of the board of directors of Communities in School. Rev. Wilborn received the B.S. degree from Allen University and was assistant dean and instructor at his alma mater for three years. He holds a M.Ed. degree from South Carolina State University and has also studied at Erskine Theological Seminary, Savannah State College and George Peabody College.

The United Black Fund of the Midlands wil hold their induction ceremony Friday night at Seawell's on Rosewood Drive in Columbia.

Reported by Tamara King

Posted 7:13pm by Chantelle Janelle 

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