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Former Carroll County NAACP president receives national award for giving voice to underserved communities

Former president of the Carroll County NAACP Jean Lewis is the recipient of a national award recognizing her efforts to give a voice to diverse and underserved communities in Carroll.

The Alliance for Community Media (ACM) awarded Lewis with the 2021 Jewell Ryan-White Award for Cultural Diversity. The award is given annually to those persons who show an outstanding contribution to a process that encourages, facilitates, or creates culturally diverse and/or non-mainstream community involvement in the field of community media, according to a news release from the Community Media Center.

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“It was a pleasure to work with Ms. Lewis on the Community Media Center Board. Her professionalism, interpersonal skills and community connections provided the nexus that introduced CMC to a diverse, underserved segment of our community,” Charles Harrison, past president of the CMC Board of Directors said via the release. “Her efforts enhanced programming and services that promoted increased minority involvement and civic engagement.

“Her liaisons with community-based organizations such as the NAACP, Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality and the Human Relations Commissions facilitated the development of CMC projects such as the Oral History project and other programs involving diverse segments of our community.”

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Lewis served as president of Carroll County NAACP from 2006 through 2020, working to ensure to political, education, social and economic equality of all citizens.

In receiving this award, Lewis becomes part of a nearly 30-year legacy of individuals who have been recognized by the ACM for their work to seek out and share the voices of those whose stories are rarely told. Founded in 1976, the Alliance for Community Media is a national trade organization representing over 3,000 Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access organizations and community media centers throughout the country. The Alliance advocates, promotes and preserves the right to media training, production, distribution, civic engagement and education in support of diverse community voices, through Access channels and other forms of media.

From 2009 to 2019 Lewis served on the Community Media Center of Carroll County’s (CMC) Board of Directors. During that time, she was the driving force behind the Black Oral History Committee’s Carroll County History Project “Carroll County: Through the Eyes of the Black Experience.” In 2011 the Maryland Historical Trust awarded the Carroll County History project with the Maryland Preservation Award for Educational Excellence.

Lewis also served as producer for several documentaries and special projects including: “William Decatur: Story of a Buffalo Soldier”, “White Rock Church History”, “The March on Washington” and the series: “African American Trailblazers of Carroll County”. In 2014 and 2016 Lewis was named CMC Board Member of the Year.

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Working with Del. Susan Krebs and the Maryland Historical Trust, Lewis was instrumental in securing recognition for the Henryton Sanatorium and Nursing School (LPN) School, Maryland’s first tuberculosis sanatorium for African American’s and student nurses. Historical Road Signs for both Henryton Sanatorium and Nursing School were dedicated in 2016

Since 2015 Lewis has been a member of the Point Breeze Credit Union, Board of Directors. She serves on numerous other community boards including the Human Services Program of Carroll County (HSP) which provides assistance with basic needs for low-income at-risk citizens of Carroll County and the Community Service Council, working to identify and advocate to meet gaps in the community service needs and to coordinate a clearing house of information for the community.

Lewis is a member of Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality, Carroll County Public Schools Multicultural Council and the Carroll County Human Relations Commission. Jean and her husband were the 2015 Carroll County Human Relations Award Recipient’s for their 50 years of civil rights work.

“I believe we all have important life lessons to share and I wanted my community to tell their history,” Lewis said via the release. “With the help of the Community Media Center those stories have been not only recorded, but also preserved for future generations.

“Receiving this award was quite a surprise. Over the years, so many people were willing to be interviewed and serve as interviewers to make the History Project a reality — this award belongs to all.”

A video of Lewis’s acceptance speech will be included on the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) web page and on the Community Media Center web page.

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