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Juanita Gray / Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame Award Winners

The Denver Public Library honors African American community leaders at the annual Juanita Gray Community Service Awards and biennial Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The event is usually held at the Blair-Caldwell Library, but due to Covid-19 was celebrated virtually. View the recording here.

2022 Juanita Ross Gray Community Service Award Winners

Viola B. Garlington

Viola is the wife of the late Roand “Roy” Garlington.  She is the mother of three children, has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She worked in the healthcare field for over 40 years, 22 of which as the Administrator of Stovall Care Center which was in the heart of the African American community. Viola has served the Denver community as a volunteer for over five decades and has been active in many social and civic organizations serving in leadership capacities. She has served in appointed positions including the U.S. Selective Service Review Board, the Colorado Regulatory Board of Nursing Home Administrators, and Denver’s Golf Advisory Board. Viola has been honored with many prestigious awards including the Colorado Black Women for Political Action, the Denver Public Library’s Juanita Gray Community Service Award (1994), “Woman of the Year” by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Juliette Low Girl Scout Award (its highest honor). Her biggest accomplishment is that she carried the Olympic Torch through Denver with her Top Teens running beside her in 2002.

Jason Shankle​

Jason is the Owner/Founder of Book King Publishing, Inc. and CEO of Inner Self and Wisdom, LLC.  He is the author of Soul Searching Poetry, Crowns and Shattered Dreams, and Sufferless: Meditations for Transforming Trauma into Healing.  He is The Association of Black Psychologists: Community Service Award and the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado: Wellington and Wilma Legacy Award recipient.  He runs a private mental health practice as a therapist, author, and healer.

This year’s nominees included Larry Benford, Jeff Campbell, Marcellina Otii, and Brandon Pryor. Learn more about the nominees here.


2022 Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame Induction Inductees

Zipporah Parks Hammond (posthumous award)

A lifelong Colorado resident, Zipporah Parks Hammond was the first Black person to earn a nursing degree from the University of Colorado School of Nursing. Throughout her life, Hammond broke down barriers and elevated the status of women. Additionally, Hammond was the only Black nursing student in the U.S. Nurse Corps in Colorado during World War II, the first minority Director of Medical Records, a philanthropist, wife and mother, historian of Black history in Denver, and Denver Public Library volunteer. Hammond passed away in 2011 at the age of 87, leaving a legacy of significant contributions to Denver and Colorado.

Judge Gary M. Jackson

The Honorable Judge Gary M. Jackson was instrumental in leading the diversification of the legal community on a community-wide basis. In 1971, Jackson co-founded the Sam Cary Bar Association in order to “..create a self-help group to instill professionalism and serve as a vehicle for the exchange of ideas among African-American lawyers.” In 1986, Judge Jackson co-founded the Sam Cary Scholarship Endowment fund which has awarded over $325,000 in scholarships to Black law students. Jackson personally mentored, guided, and brokered many attorneys' positions at legal firms, public entities, and appointments to the bench. Now retired, Judge Jackson remains active in the legal community and with many community organizations.

Rev. Leon Kelly

Reverend Leon Kelly Jr. serves as Executive Director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, the oldest anti gang program based in the Denver Metropolitan Area. Reverend Kelly has been a member of the California Gang Investigators Association for over 25 years and developed a program in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Corrections called “Flippin’ the Script”. Reverend Kelly is highly regarded for this work with gang activity and intervention. He provides gang education to schools, non-profits, law enforcement, and civic groups on how to suppress gang related violence and recruitment. He holds degrees from the University of Colorado, Colorado Christian College, Family Bible Institute and the Denver Urban Institute. Reverend Kelly continues to serve as a positive, influential leader and role model to at-risk youth in our community.

About the Awards

The Juanita Gray award honors African American men, women and youth who make outstanding contributions to the Denver Metro area and who exemplify the ideals and spirit represented by Gray’s commitment to the community. A community-driven committee works with the Library to nominate and select the winner of the award and the Hall of Fame winners.

Previous recipients of the Juanita Ross Gray Community Service Award