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Culpeper Police officer receives Eclipse Award from Orange County African-American Historical Society

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For the second year in a row, the Orange County African American Historical Society presented its annual Eclipse Awards in a virtual program for members and guests.

The Eclipse Awards are presented to individuals and organizations that have consistently gone above and beyond routine of raising awareness of Orange County’s African American people and history. A board and community members decide the awards.

The Society announced this year’s winners in the fall before presenting the awards individually and later broadcasting videos of the recipients as part of the annual celebration.

“As you know, these usually take place in person, but this year and last year, we weren’t unable to do that, obviously, because of COVID-19,” OCAAHS President the Rev. Darryle Crump said in opening the Dec. 9 program. “We are grateful to all of you online with us tonight, for truly we have a lot to celebrate. We have five nominees who have done great things in our community and we want to celebrate them and highlight just a small portion of the great activities that they’ve got going on in their lives.”

The local Historical Society launched the Eclipse Awards four years ago and last year added the Eclipse Youth Award to recognize young people who have demonstrated through volunteerism, leadership, and other activities a commitment to raise awareness of Orange County’s African American people and history.

This year’s winners are Barbara Ann Johnson, Pastor Frank Lewis Sr. and Emily Winkey. Culpeper Police Community Service Officer O’Brian Martin and Nia Robinson won the youth award.

Each winner was introduced in the virtual program before a brief video of Crump presenting the awards in person.

Martin, a 2021 graduate of Orange County High School, is the International Executive President of Distributive Education Clubs of America. He is a youth ambassador for the Just Orange community action group and plans to attend Virginia Tech following his year of DECA service.

Currently, he works for the Culpeper Police and one day hopes to enter into politics.

Crump noted Martin is, “doing great things in the community … and the society is proud to present this eclipse award to you for all that you have done and all the plans that you have in your life.”

Martin thanked the OCAAHS as well as the members of the Orange County community. “Thank you all so much for standing by me and being the best hometown I could ever ask for. I’m so excited to start my next journey at Virginia Tech next fall.”

Johnson, often referred to as “Noonie,” is a native of Orange County and learned early in life that her mission was to help others.

Johnson was recognized for her efforts to help countless people seek training and leverage opportunities to enhance their careers.

In presenting the award, Crump described Johnson as “a giant in the Orange County area,” saying the community thanks her for many contributions.

“I appreciate it, I really do, though I don’t know whether I deserve it. I thank you,” she humbly offered.

Lewis has a long history of service in Orange and Madison counties, and with his wife, Shirley, has fostered and cared for many children in their home.

He has served in pastoral roles for nearly 40 years, and is the founder of the Madison Association of Continued Equality and a member of the Madison Free Clinic Board. Lewis is also chairman of the George Washington Carver Regional High School Alumni Association based in Culpeper.

“We praise God for the great work that they’re doing here in the community,” Crump said. “Pastor Lewis is constantly doing things through his church, and around the community to help so many other people.”

The Rev. Lewis said he was humbled by the award: “With the service and work I do with the community, I look for no glory, I look for no kind of special recognitions. I just love blessing people. I just love helping people.”

A lifelong resident of Orange County, Gordonsville Vice Mayor Winkey was recognized for her longtime service on the Town Council. She also works with the Woodberry Cemetery Association.

Crump acknowledged her service on the town council, but noted, “It’s just the tip of the iceberg of her contributions to the community.”

Winkey said, “I do believe in serving the community that I live in. I’m just grateful that I’m able to help those that are in need. With a humble heart I accept this award. Whether I work in the church or with town council, or wherever in the community, I believe in helping where there is a need.”

Robinson is a senior at Orange County High School and was recognized for her academic excellence as well as her community involvement, including assisting with the Black Business Expo which was held at the Carver Center in August and volunteering at the Love Outreach Food Pantry. Interested in the STEM field, Robinson anticipates pursuing a career in mathematics or as an analyst.

“She’s doing great things in our community and we appreciate and commend her for all that she is doing,” Crump said. “We also salute her parents for the great job they have done, in rearing and raising this young lady.”

Robinson thanked the Society, particularly those who nominated her. “I’d also like to thank God for blessing me with parents who raised me to have the qualities that led you all to nominate me for this award.”

In closing the program, Crump said the Historical Society was proud of its award recipients doing great things locally.

“As we said at the top of this presentation, they come from various backgrounds and the Lord has blessed Orange County to have these people in our environment... And for that we salute them.”

To join the OCAAHS or for more information about the organization or its programs, visit www.ocaahs.org or call Crump at (301) 520-1082.

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