University City

Hall of Fame recognizes accomplished local women

Annie Montgomery Gillespie became Charlotte's first African-American female police officer in July 1968.

It was the beginning of her 32-year career of public service in both criminal justice and education.

Montgomery will be one of four accomplished women who will be inducted March 23 into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women's History Hall of Fame.

The celebration is jointly sponsored by the Levine Museum of the New South and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs Inc. - Charlotte Club.

In recognition of Women's History Month, the event was created to celebrate women in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County who have blazed trails, broken barriers and initiated programs that have affected the community.

Fifty-three women from diverse walks of life have been inducted since 2000. This Hall of Fame is the only one of its kind in North Carolina.

The hall is the brainchild of Thereasea "T.D." Elder, a charter member of the association's Charlotte Chapter.

"I wanted our club to recognize women and create a vehicle to preserve history," Elder said, "because I felt that families were not passing down information from generation to generation."

Elder herself is part of Charlotte's history. She was the first African-American nurse to integrate public health nursing in Charlotte.

The other inductees for 2012 include two of Charlotte's well-known and respected journalists: Beatrice Thompson and Fannie Flono. The fourth inductee will be former Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Wheeler.

Thompson is a Charlotte native and University City resident with more than three decades of experience in television, radio and public relations.

She was the first African-American to anchor a newscast in Charlotte. She is the news and public affairs director for two CBS radio stations (WBAV, 101.9 FM, and WPEG, Power 98 FM).

She anchors the top-rated daily news show, "The Front Page with Bea Thompson," and the highly rated Sunday Talk show, "Straight Talk with Bea Thompson," on WBAV.

She has been committed to serving her city and state throughout her career.

Award-winning journalist Flono is an associate editor at The Charlotte Observer. Her work as a reporter, journalist and author has significantly affected the Charlotte community.

Her work was part of the Observer's coverage of neighborhood crime that won the N.C. Press Association's Public Service Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Flono's columns on the commentary ("op-ed") page speak to issues that are important in Charlotte, the nation and the world.

In 1998-99, she was selected for a prestigious Neiman Fellowship at Harvard University.

She also edited a book titled "Thriving in the Shadows - The Black Experience in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County."

Wheeler is president of Wheeler Communication Group LLC, a public relations, public affairs and lobbying firm. She is a former Charlotte mayor pro tem and served on the City Council for 14 years.

She continues to serve on numerous boards and advisory committee in Charlotte.

Wheeler has been a frequent columnist for the Charlotte Business Journal and Charlotte's Best magazine. While on a two-week tour with civil rights activist Julian Bond in 2009-10, Wheeler blogged daily about her experience for Qcitymetro.com.

The NANBPWC is committed to community service locally and nationally.

The national organization was founded in 1935. The Charlotte club started in 1977 under the leadership of Anna Hood.

The organization was founded to protect the interests of women business owners and professionals. It focuses on health, education, employment and economic development. It also has a youth club.

The members give their time and talent to make a difference in communities they serve across the country. The association's national headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

Each inductee into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Women's Hall of Fame is responsible for creating a scrapbook of her life and other information she would like to pass on to future generations.

Elder hopes one day to have all previous recipients put their notebooks on display for Women's History Month.

Congratulations to all the past, present and future inductees who have made, and will continue to make, their marks in the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

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