Home Featured News Patricia Pulliam and Cendric Ward honored with special Legacy Award at the...

Patricia Pulliam and Cendric Ward honored with special Legacy Award at the 40th Annual Giant Awards

courtesy of Blace Carpenter/ theCollegiatelive

By Blace Carpenter 

About 600 sponsors, past award honorees, and members of the Grand Rapids community gathered to celebrate community leaders at the 40th Annual Giant Awards on Feb. 25 in Grand Rapids. 

This year’s Giant Awards reflected on the past 40 years and honored all previous honorees and Giant among Giants award winners. The Legacy award was unique to the 40th anniversary and honored Patricia Pulliam and the late Cedric Ward, the founders of the Giant Awards.

“I think that this whole idea of the Giant Award and the fact that it keeps going says a lot about the community and the people in it and about the wonderful kind of things they do,” said Pulliam. “That even before now, we were always so ignored and not given the proper recognition for the value that they all brought into the community. So this is just an honor for me to have even been a part of it. I never could have imagined that it would have grown to this.”

Pulliam in the early 1970s was a language arts instructor and advisor to the Black Students Union at Grand Rapids Community College, previously known as the Grand Rapids Junior College. She spent 30 years in her college career before she became the first African American and first female president at GRCC. Patricia and her husband, Yergan Pulliam, purchased The Grand Rapids Times in 1986. The Grand Rapids Times is the oldest existing weekly publication targeting the black community in Grand Rapids. She is active as both a publisher and editor.

Cerdic Ward received the Dr. MaLinda P. Sapp Legacy award from the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids for his leadership. Ward died in 2002, but his contributions to the Grand Rapids community will be remembered for generations. 

Ward and his wife, Sandy, established Circle Theater’s first children’s company, where he wrote and directed its first production, “Hansel and Gretel.” He founded the Robeson Players in the 1980s to provide theatrical opportunities to African Americans and co-founded the Grand Rapids Symphony’s “Symphony with Soul” concert. Ward focused on helping young people have access to higher education, and the Junior Giant Cedric Ward Leadership Scholarship was named in honor of him.

The Milo Brown scholarship is also awarded to full-time GRCC students of African American heritage annually. This year’s recipients were Timeiya Blanton, Lucy Faniki, Gabriella Armstand, Mispar Lewis, and Clarissa Mendez. They all were awarded $1,000 for the following fall semester. Nathaniel and Laura Moody, who are coordinators for the scholarship, said their son, who will take over the scholarship, plans to raise the total amount to $2,000 in the near future.

Music from the Grand Rapids Community College Guitar Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and the Isaac Norris Band filled the room as many friends and family were reunited during the event’s gala.

The 40th Anniversary of the Giant Awards was organized by the Giant Award committee, GRCC Communications Department, and GRCC Foundation. These organizations started planning the event right after the 39th Annual Giant Awards, which took place in October.

“To see all the past Giants come together, that was a powerful statement. Not just for GRCC, but for our community, for those who live in the city, and to know and recognize the leadership that we have here,” said Tempy Mann, a member of the Giant committee. “This is just a beautiful event, and it all just fell into place. It was all part of teamwork, and everyone decided what they needed to do. What they wanted to bring to the table to make this all work, and it was just a wonderful experience.”

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