By Joanne Davidson
The Denver Post
Photos by Alex Johns, Latin Life Denver Media
David Arteberry grew up in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., where his first-hand experience with segregation and racial discrimination proved to be a valuable tool in his decades-long career teaching American history in the Denver Public Schools.
Arteberry was one of three to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission at a VIP reception and Colorado Symphony concert held Jan. 13 at Boettcher Concert Hall.
Lifetime Achievement Awards also went to Barbara Shannon Banister, who has been Aurora’s community relations chief since 1987, and Evie Dennis, a veteran educator who became the first woman and the first African-American to serve as superintendent of the Denver Public Schools.
Shannon Banister also conducts cultural awareness programs for Aurora’s city employees and is president/CEO of Grand Design, an ensemble focused on preserving the performing arts of African-American and other cultures. In addition to offering concerts, plays and visual art exhibits, Grand Design engages young people from underserved neighborhoods to participate in wholesome activities such as the arts.
Evie Dennis, whose first job in Denver was researcher for what was then the Children’s Asthma Research Institute and the National Jewish Home for Asthmatic Children, was chief of mission for the United States Olympic Committee for two Pan-American Games and the 1988 Olympic Games. She was one of the first two women to serve on the U.S. Olympic Executive Committee and the first to serve as its vice president. She is a 2004 inductee to the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame.
The 2015 Humanitarian Awards went to Anna Jo Haynes, who spent 40 years as executive director of the Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, and the Rev. Jules Smith, who became senior pastor of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in 1986 and led its growth from 33 members to its current 2,000.
Nekyah Cheraye Scott, a straight-A freshman at Metropolitan State University, was given the Dr. Joyce Marie Davis Outstanding Youth Award in appreciation for the time she spends ministering to senior citizens and the homeless. Charles Burrell, known as “the Jackie Robinson of symphony orchestras” for breaking the color line of the San Francisco Symphony and becoming its first African-American bass player, and the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance were presented with the Wilma J. Webb Founder’s Award.