The Gaston Clergy and Citizens Coalition, an initiative of Gaston Together, will present the 2013 Gaston County MLK Unity Awards to former Gastonia Mayor Jennie Stultz and longtime school principal James Miller Sr. on Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in downtown Gastonia.
The award recognizes current or former Gaston County citizens who, through community service, have helped create unity across lines of race, class, gender, faith and municipalities within the county.
Stultz was the first female mayor of Gastonia and the longest-serving mayor. During her tenure, she created the Mayors Youth Leadership Council, which represented a diverse group of youth from black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Sri Lankan and Pakistani heritage. The group also crossed all socio-economic levels and addressed issues of reducing the high-school drop out rate and teen pregnancy among other things.
Miller served 36 years as a school principal in Gaston County. In addition to leadership roles in professional educational organizations, he also shared his passion for helping others through his work with community organizations such as Catherines House, Belmont Habitat for Humanity and the Belmont Concerned Citizens Coalition, a bi-racial organization whose goal was to make Belmont a model city in the United States.
Miller created and chaired the African American Scholarship Fund of Belmont to help those with financial need who had exhibited superior academic performance and community service. The award was renamed the James S. Miller Scholarship Fund.
The awards ceremony is at 10:30 a.m. Names of the honorees are engraved on the Martin Luther Jr. monument located at the plaza, which is at the corner of Marietta Street and Long Avenue.
The Gaston Clergy and Citizens Coalition is a countywide, nondenominational ministerial association formed in the late 1990s by Gaston Together.