Morgan graduate to receive national award

Gen. William "Kip" Ward, a 1971 Morgan State graduate and the nation's only current African-American four-star Army general, will be honored today in Atlanta with the Trumpet Award.

Ward, 60, who will be one of 10 recipients of the award this year, said he is humbled by the recognition. He said the award also honors Americans serving in the military today.

"As one who wears our nation's cloth, I can represent so many women and men who also wear the nation's cloth," Ward said. "Our service is being recognized. Someone is taking note of it."

The award is given primarily to African-Americans who have achieved professional success and have inspired others. The award was originally presented by Turner Broadcasting in 1993 and is now presented by the Trumpet Awards Foundation Inc.

Past honorees include Coretta Scott King, Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Halle Berry, Toni Braxton, Beyonce and Dr. Benjamin Carson.

"It's hard to believe," Ward said of the honor. "I clearly did not see myself in that category. Those people are icons. It is something that is a bit awesome."

Ward, who grew up just north of Baltimore on Falls Road and graduated from Towson High School in 1967, joined the Army after a two-year ROTC program in college. He said he was attracted to the military because it offered opportunities for leadership, discipline, responsibility and character-building.

"I enjoyed the challenges," he said. "I gravitated toward it."

Ward became the first commander of the U.S. Africa Command on Oct. 1, 2007, and is based in Stuttgart, Germany. He is the fifth African-American four-star general.

Ward and his wife of almost 39 years, Joyce Lewis Ward, have two adult children. Ward's mother and other extended family members still live in Maryland.

"My wife, our children, my mom are just very, very proud and happy," Ward said. "It is all just numbing. It is a bit surreal being a part of this group."

This year's other honorees include comedian Steve Harvey; John Rogers Jr., founder of Ariel Investments; and Clarence Otis Jr., chief executive officer of Darden Restaurants.

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