The George Henry White Pioneer Award was established by the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation to honor the legacy of, the late Congressman George Henry White (1852 -1918), who was a major civil rights leader during his time, and was the lone African American serving in the U.S. Congress from 1897 to 1901.
The award honors qualities of Servant Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship, Visionary Action, and Family Cohesiveness.
The BESD Foundation, Inc. BOD's, voted unanimously, without opposition, to give the 2014 GHW award to Dr. Benjamin Justesen for his visionary action, and diligent and ongoing efforts to promote public knowledge of the life and enduring legacy of GHW. Dr Justesen serves as a spokesperson on the life and legacy of GHW at public events sponsored by the BESD foundation and other organizations, and is a present day authority on GHW. He also worked with the Ms. Kate Tsubata and the Lightsmith Productions Company as a writer and editor in the production of the documentary movie on the life of GHW entitled,”George Henry White- American Phoenix”. Dr. Justesen has authored two books on the life of GHW, one entitled: “An Even Chance in the Race of Life” and the other book is entitled: “In His Own Words”, which is a compilation of Writings, Speeches, and Letters done by GHW.
The GHW Award for 2014 was presented by Mr. Vincent Spaulding, BESD Foundation, President Emeritus & COO, to Dr. Justesen on August 2, 2014 during a banquet in Asheville, NC.
2012 - Ms. Oprah Winfrey
Purpose of Award: The George Henry White Pioneer Award was established by the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation to honor the legacy of our family member, the late Congressman George Henry White. The award honors qualities of Servant Leadership, Social Entrepreneurship, Visionary Action, and Family Cohesiveness.
The George Henry White Pioneer Award for 2012 was awarded to Ms. Oprah Winfrey for her extraordinary contributions to human development.
Award Statement: The 2012 George Henry White Pioneer Award, is being presented to Ms. Winfrey for her extraordinary contributions to human development. Only very rarely has a person--to the same extent as Ms. Winfrey -- captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. The Oprah Winfrey Show, and now, the Oprah Winfrey Network, have established a global community linked through media and technology advocating self-empowerment for all people. This exemplifies the call of Congressman White--over a century ago -- for “an even chance in the race of life” for all citizens. Winfrey's visionary endeavor, Oprah’s Angel Network, has been a catalyst to "inspire people to make a difference in the lives of others.” The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa exemplifies George Henry White’s call for people to “Rise like a Phoenix”—and is especially meaningful for a nation whose struggle for freedom echoes our own past.
Like Ms. Winfrey, George Henry White believed in self-reliance but also wanted a level playing field. He started from a very humble origin, yet reached the highest halls of government. He shared with you a mastery of communication, using reason, passion, and humor to illuminate society’s issues. Both, Winfrey and White have encouraged education as a path to empowerment and hard work to achieve greatness. Furthermore, both have used the prominence they gained to improve the lot of others, becoming benefactors and advocating for human rights.
2010 - President Barack Obama
The maiden presentation of the award was presented to President Barack Obama at the biennial Spaulding family reunion on July 31, 2010 at 7:00 PM in the evening at the Hilton North Raleigh Hotel, Raleigh, NC.
The family association Board of Directors under its non-profit foundation unanimously nominated President Obama to be the first recipient of this Award. The Association's decision required little effort, as it saw in President Obama the characteristics of servant leadership, a passion for the social engineering that works for the greater good of all humankind and a strong sense of family cohesiveness.