Arch of Triumph Awards and Inaugural Ball


A celebration is demanded after a ceremony like an inauguration. On Saturday, donors, friends of the University, faculty, staff and students gathered again in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center for the Arch of Triumph Awards and Inaugural Ball.

The evening was hosted by two dynamic JCSU alumni: Jessica N. Williams ’04 and Stephen Graddick IV ’16. The two on-air media personalities effortlessly blended comedy and professionalism as they moved through the program.  You may know Williams by her voice and clever quips on the radio. She is known professionally as “Miss Jessica” on Charlotte’s Power 98.  Graddick ushers in the mornings as news anchor on Washington, DC’s Fox 5.

Three Arch of Triumph awards were given during the Gala.

Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins ’75, was one of the awardees. Dawkins is a nationally recognized higher education expert who has worked at six HBCUs including JCSU, South Carolina State, Dillard University, Cheyney University, Clark Atlanta University and Bennett College, where she served as the 18th president.

Harvey B. Gantt, the first Black mayor of Charlotte and co-founder of Gantt Huberman Architects, was another awardee. Gantt is known as a trailblazer in the world of politics, architecture, activism and education. As a native of Charleston, S.C., he made national news when he became the first Black student to attend Clemson University in 1963. In the Harvey B. Gantt tribute video presented during the Gala, the audience learned of the pioneer’s many architectural contributions to the Johnson C. Smith University landscape, from the Biddle Hall restoration project to the New Science Center.

The final recipient of the Arch of Triumph awards was Bernard Smith, Jr. ’17, a young alumnus who serves as a Cloud Solutions Architect at Microsoft.  The 28-year-old investor and philanthropist now serves as the president of Blacks at Microsoft and was instrumental in the founding of the JCSU Esports and Gaming Program.

The night ended with a performance from Doug E. Fresh, an American rapper and record producer.


Watch the Gala