By Kimberly Harrington
It’s been said that legends are made, not born. Recently in Winston-Salem, thirty-three legends were honored at the N.C. HBCU Living Legends Scholarship Gala. Among those honored were Livingstone College alumni Dr. James Walter Ferree, a United Methodist minister; Brigadier General Velma Richardson, Ret., U.S. Army; and Bishop George E. Battle Jr., senior bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church, presiding prelate of the Piedmont Episcopal District, and chairman of the Livingstone College Board of Trustees.
Livingstone’s head men’s basketball coach, James Stinson, was also honored, but as an alumnus of Barber-Scotia College.
“If ever there was a time we need HBCUs, the time is now,” said Larry Hall, secretary of the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and an honorary co-chair of the event. “You can’t be what you can’t see. You see African American role models at HBCUs … and that’s what these living legends are.”
Stinson said he was humbled by the recognition of being named a Living Legend. “To God be the glory for this honor,” he said in quoting the Scripture, 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
“Those are the words that I live by,” Stinson said. “This is more than a job, it’s a testimony.”
Stinson has served as Livingstone’s men’s basketball coach since 2004. Under his leadership, the college has won two back-to-back CIAA basketball championships in 2014 and 2015, and boasted having the CIAA’s highest GPA for a men’s squad.
Battle, who was elected bishop in 1992, is a member of the Boy Scouts advisory board and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association board. He also serves on the board of trustees for Hood Theological Seminary and on the board of directors for Carolinas Healthcare System.
Ferree retired in 1995 as a church administrator, but has served as director of ethnic church development for the Western N.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church and as pastor of Simpson-Gillespie Church in Charlotte. He served on the board of trustees for Lake Junaluska and Pfeiffer College. He has an honorary doctorate from High Point University.
Richardson retired from active duty in 2003. She is one of only ten black women to have earned the rank of brigadier general on active duty in the U.S. and was the senior African American woman in the Army at her retirement.
“It was a great evening in not only honoring living legends of HBCUs, but in also highlighting the importance of these institutions,” Livingstone College President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr. said. “I am extremely proud of the achievements of Livingstone College’s living legends.”