Mayor Neeley to honor 7 for contributions to the black community in recognition of Black History Month

FLINT, Michigan — As part of the City’s ongoing recognition of Black History Month, Mayor Sheldon Neeley will honor five individuals and one couple for their trailblazing work and leadership in our community. 

Mayor Neeley will bestow the Mayor Sheldon A. Neeley City of Flint Ujima Awards and a Keys to the City, Flint’s highest honors, to the honorees in a ceremony at the Flint Development Center. The private event for honorees will follow COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Ujima, pronounced “oo-JEE-mah,” is the third principle of Kwanzaa and means “collective work and responsibility.” 

“We honor these individuals for their leadership, for their bold and steadfast commitment to our community, and for their willingness to forge new paths and open doors for future generations,” Mayor Neeley said. “We honor them and their work to build better neighborhoods and stronger families, not just during Black History Month, but every day.” 

The honorees are:

— Norm Bryant: Founder and former owner of the historic Bryant’s Barber Shop. Bryant also founded the Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame for black athletes from the Flint area.

— Ruben Burks (posthumously): A longtime community activist, Burks was a leader in Flint-Genesee Economic Development, a cooperative effort by labor, business. In 1998, Ruben became the first African-American International UAW Secretary-Treasurer. 

— Dr. Nathel Burtley (posthumously): Flint’s first black superintendent of Flint Community Schools, dedicated his career to teaching and empowering students. 

— Floyd and Brenda Clack: Both served as Genesee County Commissioners and State Representatives for the State of Michigan, in addition to being advocates for social justice and youth initiatives.

— Joe Davis: Flint’s first African American firefighter for the City of Flint Fire Department. He worked from 1961-1975 as the only black firefighter in the department for almost 15 years before the next person of color was hired into the department. 

— Cleora Magee: previously served for 11 years as the Executive Director of the City of Flint Human Relations Commission, and for 16 years as Community Organizer and Neighborhood Service Center Manager for the Urban Coalition and Flint NIPP. She has been a resident of Flint for 57 years.