Who was Juanita Gray?
Juanita Ross Gray worked at the Ford-Warren Branch in the late 1960s and 1970s. Her community outreach efforts were highly regarded until her untimely death in 1987. For the last 33 years, DPL has honored Mrs. Gray’s legacy each year by nominating current leaders in the community who embody the same trailblazing spirit. Past award recipients can be found here. The Juanita Gray Community Service Award honors African American men, women, and youth who represent Gray’s commitment to the community. This year's nominees showcase black excellence at its very best.
2023 Juanita Gray Nominees:
Dr. Halim Ali
Dr. Halim Ali is the Founder and Executive Director of From The Heart Foundation. Since 2016 he has served as a mental health professional, community activist, youth and adult mentor, and master facilitator in several modalities of mental health and behavioral health curricula. Dr. Ali is currently also authoring his first book to be released in early 2023. He works directly with the Denver Metro community and its suburbs advocating for individual empowerment and mental health awareness to establish healthy American families. Through community events and programs that range from youth leadership courses, Rites of Passage programs, adult male health and wellness workshops, educational seminars, and community/public services, Dr. Ali is for the people first. He works hard in creating new movements that are direct, intentional, and purposeful throughout all platforms of healthcare geared toward healthy individuals, families, and communities.
Salma Douah (Youth)
Salma Douah brings a global perspective and a pure heart to her education. Douah sees the good in others and uses that as her motivation to make her community and the world a better place. She is a student who has a passion for social justice issues. She has helped organize movements for her peers who have suffered from unjust immigration policies. Salma has also led initiatives at school so it can be a more inclusive environment for every type of student, such as the Day of Silence for LGBTQ+ students, and has participated in programming to help support students who struggle with mental health. Douah has volunteered and been part of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of America which has allowed her to grow as a leader.
Flora DuPree is a member of the Denver Posse of Westerners, an organization dedicated to researching, writing, and the study of Western U.S. history, as well as a prime supporter and leader of an organization whose purpose is to support Ethiopian families, particularly families who have recently arrived in Denver. In her professional life, Dupree is a licensed Real Estate Broker who runs her own agency. She hires and trains new real estate agents. This activity contributes to the economic well-being of her agents and that of her Denver neighborhood. Dupree supports the Denver Public Library by preserving the archives of the Denver Posse of Westerners. The Western History Collection at DPL is the designated successor for the Denver Posse archives.
Katrina Peacock (Youth)
Katrina Peacock is a student who rose to the top of her class through sheer determination and grit. She is a leader in her school community, who oversees school assemblies and sits on interview panels for new teachers. School staff say that when Peacock walks into a classroom teachers smile because they know she will make their classroom better. As a bi-racial woman, Peacock fully embraces her identity and is beginning to understand how it allows her to explore and discover who she is as a woman in our community. She is able to articulate how her blackness and whiteness can be strengths and is growing comfortable in her own skin. She also wants to enact social change and advocate for her community.
Micah Smith joined the news team at Denver7 in 2018 as a morning reporter and is currently Denver7's Social Equity Reporter and 4 p.m. anchor. Smith was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Smith is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), and in 2021 she began an effort to reactivate Colorado’s chapter (CABJ). In November 2022, CABJ received its active status and Smith now serves as its president. Smith is also chair of the Denver7 Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a member of the Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN), and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. When she is not working, Smith enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as volunteering on several community boards.
Eddie Mae Woolfolk
Eddie Mae Woolfolk (Mrs. Eddie) serves alongside her husband Pastor Robert E. Woolfolk (Pastor Bob) at Agape Christian Church as Administrative Assistant and Program Director. Woolfolk has dedicated her life to serving others, especially people experiencing homelessness, ex-offenders, and people who are hurting. Woolfolk is a graduate of Kansas Bible College with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies. Her work in the community includes starting a transitional housing program to house men of color that have been released from the justice system. Additionally, she has created and managed many support services that include counseling, mental health education and treatment, peer mentoring, and navigation. Woolfolk also provides basic needs for many, such as a weekly food bank and a community kitchen, and provides monthly meals to youth during the summer. Woolfolk has been recognized by several community organizations for the work she has done in the community. Of all of her accomplishments and awards, she is most proud of being chosen as a child of God.
Origin of the Blacks In Colorado Hall of Fame
This award is bestowed upon a Coloradan who has been the first African American to accomplish a professional goal or to have been a pioneer in their field while actively supporting the African American community. The first ceremony, held in 1973, inducted forty-one distinguished individuals as part of a cooperative venture for Black Heritage Month between the Denver Public Library and Denver Public Schools. In 1985, the Ford-Warren Branch Library celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Part of the celebratory activities was a special induction of four additional black Coloradans into the Hall of Fame. Since then, the award has been paired with the Juanita Gray Community Service Award and held biennially honoring community members who have broken barriers and paved the way for future generations to excel in a variety of fields and occupations. Learn more about the current 77 inductees here.
2023 Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame Special Inductee:
Ronald "Ron" Glen Miles (posthumous award)
Ronald “Ron” Glen Miles was a Grammy-nominated jazz musician and composer known for his kindness, modesty, and desire to help others.
Miles was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1963 and moved to Denver with his family in 1974, the year he started playing music. He attended Denver East High School and released his debut album “Distance for Safety” in 1987. Miles went on to record eleven more albums, including the critically acclaimed “I Am a Man” in 2017, and “Rainbow Sign,” his 2020 debut on the iconic Blue Note record label that was influenced by the death of his father.
In addition to leading his own bands, Miles performed in the ensembles of top jazz artists such as Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, Mercer Ellington, Don Byron, Myra Melford, Joe Henry, Madeleine Peyroux, Jason Moran, and many others.
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