The American Conference on Diversity Greater Bergen Chapter is pleased to announce the 2013 Diversity Legacy Award honorees, who will be recognized at the Annual Diversity Legacy Breakfast on October 24 at Fairleigh Dickenson University (FDU). A special “Defining Moment in Diversity” community conversation will also be held to mark this year’s 65th anniversary of the American Conference on Diversity’s (ACOD) work and next year’s 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v Board of Education decision.
The 2013 Diversity Legacy Award honorees are:
►Lifetime Legacy Award
Theodora Smiley-Lacey, Civil Rights Leader & Lecturer
Teaneck resident Theodora Smiley Lacey has been deeply committed to the struggle for equality for all for decades. A native of Montgomery, Ala., she grew up in the segregated south and encountered many forms of racism. She worked closely with the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the famed bus boycott of 1955. In the summer of 1957, she joined her late husband, Dr. Archie Lacey, traveling throughout the counties of Alabama researching voter registration and injustice in the political system of Alabama. This research served as a legal basis for the great wave of protest and litigation that sought to enfranchise the black voters in Alabama.
Ms. Lacey’s community involvement continued after moving to Teaneck, where she played a major role in successfully integrating the public school system and is cited for her efforts in the book Triumph in a White Suburb by Reginald Damerell. She was chosen as a delegate to Russia representing New Jersey in a Citizen to Citizen Exchange Program, served on the Teaneck Township Ethics Board, and presently serves as a commissioner on the Teaneck Township Historical Preservation Commission. Ms. Lacy chaired and coordinated “Rosa Parks Day” in Teaneck, the March for Peace and Freedom to Washington D.C., and the Children’s March on Washington. She is also a co-founder of Teens Talk About Racism, an annual conference held at FDU for students throughout Bergen County, serves as vice chair of the African American Advisory Board for Bergen County, chair of the Martin Luther King Birthday Observance Committee of Bergen County, and co-chair of the Martin Luther King Monument Committee, a project to erect a life size statue of Dr. King in Hackensack.
Ms. Lacey is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Master Teacher Award from the Teacher Training Institute, Teacher of the Year Award from Teaneck, Outstanding Women of New Jersey from the New Jersey Senate, and Most Outstanding Secondary School Teacher from Princeton University. In addition, she was honored by the Bergen Record as one of the “Most Intriguing People” and is the recipient of several awards from local diversity organizations, including the Sojourner Truth Award, the Negro Business and Professional Women of Bergen County, Lifetime Achievement Award Bergen County Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Community Service Award, Matthew Feldman Community Service Award, and the NAACP Service Award. Recently, she was recognized with the Spirit of King Award from the Mount Calvary Baptist Church of Englewood.
►Community Diversity Advocate Award
Interfaith Brotherhood-Sisterhood Committee of Bergen County
The Interfaith Brotherhood Sisterhood Committee of Bergen County, created to promote mutual understanding and respect between various religious communities, held its first faith-based diversity event more than 25 years ago. Today, the Committee continues to hold an annual breakfast as well as prayer vigils, educational forums, and other programs to support its mission. The Committee is co-sponsored by many faith communities, including the Bergen County Council of Churches, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Northern New Jersey, Dar-UlIslah Muslim Community of Bergen County, the Arya Samaj of New Jersey, and the Hindu, Baha’I, Sikh, and Jain communities of Bergen County.
“The Greater Bergen chapter board is pleased to honor such an esteemed civil-rights leader as Theodora Lacey and a group such as the Interfaith Brotherhood-Sisterhood Committee of Bergen County, which has had such a positive impact on interfaith understanding. Both Ms. Lacey and the Interfaith Committee are so deserving of their respective awards and being honored at our Diversity Legacy Breakfast, having made their mark on intergroup relations in our communities. They have certainly created defining moments in diversity,” says S. Craig Mourton, Chapter Chair and Assistant Provost at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus.
In addition to these awards, Diversity Youth Leadership Awards will be presented to outstanding Bergen and Passaic County students. During the “Defining Moment in Diversity” community conversation, Ms. Lacey will reflect on her rich civil-rights history, including the integration of Teaneck Public Schools, the first education system to become integrated without court mandate. ACOD Director of Professional Development Renee Ayers will then facilitate a discussion about the current state of intergroup relations in the Greater Bergen County area.
The Diversity Legacy Awards breakfast will be held October 24 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus in the Rutherford Room of the Student Union Building (860 Sub Lane, Teaneck, NJ 07666). Nonrefundable tickets are $60. To attend or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call 732-745-9330 or visit http://2013gbaawards.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1085558.
About the American Conference on Diversity
The programs, services, and initiatives of the American Conference on Diversity are among the most important work focused on creating a more inclusive society. It is the unfinished business of living in a highly diverse nation: educating and empowering our next generation of leaders; enhancing our workplaces; and helping to create inclusive communities. The American Conference on Diversity, which has been serving schools, organizations, workplaces, and communities in New Jersey since 1948, builds on a historic mission and creates programs and activities relevant and vital to 21st Century life. It is a journey we can all take together. The American Conference on Diversity operates eight chapters to help us to educate and empower leaders and bring our messages of inclusion and respect to communities throughout New Jersey: Atlantic County Chapter, Bayonne Chapter, Central Jersey Chapter, Essex County Chapter, Greater Bergen Chapter, Hudson County Chapter, Jersey Shore Chapter, and Mercer County Chapter. Visit www.AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org to learn more.
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