John Harding Lucas will receive the North Carolina Award for Public Service later this month.
Lucas, 93, has earned the respect of many by embracing and overcoming challenges. For more than 60 years, he was an education administrator and leader. He fought for the integration of the the whites-only North Carolina Education Association and the black North Carolina Teachers Association, proposing what came to be known as the “Lucas concept.”
He proposed that a completely new organization be formed rather than forcing either group into an existing structure and in 1970 the North Carolina Association of Educators was created. He was elected to the first school board of the newly merged school system in Durham County and served as president of Shaw University.
He is an advocate for youth, school funding and social justice. Lucas Middle School in Durham and other community institutions bear his name. He remains active in his church and serves lifelong appointments on several boards.
The state’s highest civilian honor, the North Carolina Awards will be presented by Gov. Pat McCrory to six distinguished North Carolinians at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham.
“It is an honor to pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” says Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the N. C. Department of Cultural Resources. “Each has enriched the lives of our citizens and propelled North Carolina onto the national and world stages.”
The following are the honorees: Myron S. Cohen (science), a trailblazing UNC-Chapel Hill HIV/AIDS researcher; John E. Cram (fine arts), an Asheville art gallery owner; John M. H. Hart Jr. (literature), a former attorney whose bestsellers include “The King of Lies, “Down River” and “The Last Child;” Phillip J. Kirk Jr. (public service), a lifelong advocate of education and economic development; and Walt Wolfram (public service), an internationally-acclaimed linguist who has spotlighted the state’s rich language and dialect heritage.