MeckMin, a Charlotte interfaith group of about 100 congregations, gave its annual community awards Monday to Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, who helps lead the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, and to Race Matters for Juvenile Justice, a local initiative that seeks to eliminate race and ethnicity as predictors of outcomes in court cases involving minors.
Garmon-Brown, who’s also a vice president for Novant Health and a Baptist minister, received the Sydnor Thompson Jr. Community Leader Award – named for the late attorney, judge and church leader who was a champion of interfaith relations at the N.C. Council of Churches.
In her remarks, Garmon-Brown said the task force, which is looking for ways to boost economic mobility in the city and county, has found that understanding, not blame, is the way to dismantle long-standing racism.
“If we don’t understand our history and how we got here,” she said, “we won’t understand that sometimes we tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they ain’t never had no boots.”
Race Matters for Juvenile Justice, founded in 2010, was given the interfaith group’s Bridge Builder Award. Elisa Chinn Gary and Louis Trosch told the breakfast audience at Covenant Presbyterian Church that their local initiative has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and others to help young people and to change juvenile courts.