An Oscar-nominated actor, a comedian and an iconic activist were among the inspirations for this year’s Brigade Boys and Girls Club’s Black History Month Art Contest.
An awards ceremony was recently held to name the top three winners of the second-annual contest, held in partnership with U.S. Cellular.
While it aims to inspire creativity, the competition is also designed to honor African-American achievements and spark students’ interest in and awareness of black leaders, both historical and modern, and their impact on culture and politics.
“This contest is a wonderful way to praise the rich history of culture and diversity here in eastern North Carolina and across our country,” said Jeremy Taylor, sales director for U.S. Cellular’s eastern NC territory.
Brigade members were invited in February to create of portrait of an influential black person using any medium they desired. More than 65 local youth responded and, from there, 10 finalists were selected. Those pieces were then put on display at area U.S. Cellular stores and put to a vote by the public.
With all the votes tallied, Brigade and U.S. Cellular announced the best in show—with the help of Wilmington City Council member Earl Sheridan—during a ceremony Wednesday at the Vance Street club.
“I enjoyed seeing how talented and creative our Wilmington children are,” Sheridan said. “I was really impressed by the artwork and how it represents our diverse history and community.”
But it was 8-year-old Jade Rivera’s take on Will Smith that rose to the top. Latesha Walker took second place for her marker drawing of Eddie Murphy, and Gabriela Gomez’s pencil sketch of Rosa Parks came in third.
U.S. Cellular has, as part of its business model, a community outreach component aimed at fostering learning opportunities through donations and volunteer service.
“Programs and partnerships like this one from U.S. Cellular promote great opportunities for our kids to learn and appreciate our community,” said Brigade’s CEO David Carriker. “[They] provide a great example to the business community of how they can ensure our future by investing in our kids today.”