African American Hall of Fame debuts online, ceremony next week

The Hall of Fame's logo
The Hall of Fame's logo

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The late Dr. Benjamin Hooks, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, and civil rights pioneer Maxine Smith will be among the first inductees into the new African American Hall of Fame.

"There are many African Americans living here right now who've made major contributions," Memphis businessman Melvin Jones said Thursday.

Jones, who is organizing the Hall of Fame, said the inductees will represent Memphis' best and brightest.  Thirty-nine Memphians will be honored in the inaugural class, from Otis Sanford at the Commercial Appeal to Kato Johnson, Senior V.P. at Methodist Hospital and the first African American president of University of Memphis Alumni Association.

"He has worked very closely with the athletic department both in recruiting our young people and then in seeing that our young people graduate," Jones said. "And if that wasn't enough, what he has done for Methodist Hospital?"

Entertainers like Ruby Wilson will also be honored, along with Southern Heritage Classic founder Fred Jones and Southwest coach Vertie Sails.

"One of the winningest junior college coaches or community college coaches in the country," Melvin Jones said.

To mark the occasion, each inductee will receive an Umoja Circle award.  Organizer say the Hall of Fame will be located online, so to visit, all you'll need is computer.

Jones said he hoped honoring the inductees would inspire others to follow their footsteps.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 at LeMoyne-Owen College.

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