Peace Corps Honors African Americans; New Award Named For Franklin Williams

February 24, 1999

New York City, February 24, 1999—Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan announced today the establishment of a new award named for early Peace Corps founder Franklin H. Williams.
"Franklin Williams was a pioneer of the Peace Corps, a noted civil rights activist, and the first high-placed African American at the agency. His legacy has come to embody the highest ideals of the Peace Corps commitment to empowering others through community service, " said Gearan.
The award is to honor outstanding returned Peace Corps volunteers for their continued commitment to community service in the spirit of the Peace Corps.
In celebration of Black History Month, Peace Corps is highlighting the accomplishments of eight African American returned Peace Corps volunteers. They will be honored in an awards ceremony to take place tonight the Schomburg Center in New York City.
The returned Peace Corps volunteers being honored are:
Fanshen Cox, the International Academy Coordinator and an ESL teacher at Morris High School in the Bronx;
Howard Dodson, a specialist in African-American history, and director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library;
Melvin P. Foote , the executive director of the Constituency for Africa, a Washington, D.C., based organization composed of groups and individuals with an interest in Africa;
Angela Pruitt an ESL teacher at Bushwick High School in Brooklyn;
William Seraile, a professor in the Department of Black Studies at Lehman College in New York City;
Dr. Roosevelt Weaver, the principal of Ecole Toussaint Louverture in East Orange, N.J.;
Ira Weston, the principal of Paul Robeson High School for Business and Technology in New York City\
and E. Thomas Williams, who has had a distinguished career in real estate and finance and is currently the president of a family investment company.
"These individuals have demonstrated in both their professional and personal lives, the commitment to public service that reflects what it truly means to be a Peace Corps volunteer," Gearan said.
The keynote speaker at the award ceremony will be Deputy Peace Corps Director, Ambassador Charles R. Baquet III, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Somalia from 1965-67.
Currently, nearly 6,700 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 80 countries, working to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start new small businesses, and stop the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

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