By Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor
Over 750 people attended the Giants Awards at Devos Place on Feb. 7 to acknowledge outstanding African American community members in the Grand Rapids area.
Grand Rapids Community College hosted the 33rd annual awards ceremony, continuing the longstanding tradition.
Two GRCC students received the Milo M. Brown scholarship. Stephan M. Bracey, a Juvenile Service major, was honored to continue a family’s legacy.
“It’s such an honor,” said Bracey, whose father-in-law, David May, received a Giants Award in years past and Bracey’s wife, Yamaka Bracey, also received the scholarship when she was attending GRCC. “I’m so happy for this moment.”
Suni M. Musawwir was the other scholarship recipient from GRCC, majoring in Architecture, Heating & Cooling, and Construction Management.
“I worked very hard for it and I just thank God that I was alive enough to get it,” said Musawwir, who has at least four degrees under his belt already. “Hopefully this is my first step and maybe one day I’ll become a Giant in the city of Grand Rapids.”
Rev. Dr. Clifton Rhodes, Jr was presented the Giant Among Giants award, recognizing that he has impacted many areas in and beyond the Grand Rapids community.
Rhodes began his life journey at the age of 9 by accepting God into his heart, and that decision has clearly impacted him since. Rhodes graduated from Grand Rapids Bible College and Seminary, now Cornerstone University, with a bachelor’s degree in religious education. For 10 years, Rhodes was the Associate Minister at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, and involved himself by directing the choir, teaching Sunday school and helping with junior church. Forty two years ago, Rhodes became the pastor of Messiah Missionary Baptist Church, and since then has founded Grand Rapids Reach, an outreach ministry of the church.
Described by his nominator as “truly, undeniably a leader, a person of tremendous character, incredible talent, and a beautiful heart”, Rhodes accepted his award with a standing ovation and a great applause.
Rhodes is currently facing Lou Gherig’s disease, a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and can result in involuntary muscle movement.
“The first word (that) jumped in my head, humbled,” Rhodes said. “I’m honored and I’m grateful…It so happened that physically I’m having some very serious challenges in my body…I think this is the love and the grace of God that says I’m here.”
2015 Award Recipients:
Reverend Michelle Loyd-Paige, Ph.D. – The Floyd Skinner Justice Award
Floyd Wilson, Jr. – The Walter Coe Public Service Award
Larry Arnold Brewer, PA-C – The Eugene Browning Medical Service Award
Dallas Lenear – The W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award
Lawrence N. Redd, Ph.D. – The Ethel Coe Humanities Award
Keli Christopher, Ph.D. – The Milo Brown Business Award
Dianne Green-Smith, Ph.D. – The Phyllis Scott Activist Award
Beverly Grant and George Grant, Jr., Ph.D. – The William Glenn Trailblazer Award
Reverend Joseph D. Jones – The Raymond Tardy Community Service Award
New Hope Baptist Church – The H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award
Diane J. McMillan – The Hattie Beverly Education Award