Neal, Black honored as ‘Everyday Heroes’

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Two Pittsburgh locals were among six African-Americans recognized by the governor for being “everyday heroes” in their communities and professions.

On Feb. 18, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife, Susan, recognized several men and women from across the state at the annual “Everyday Heroes” Award ceremony held at the governor’s residence in Harrisburg. The event, hosted by the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African-American Affairs in conjunction with Black History Month, honors African-American leaders for their dedication and commitment to their community.

“When we commemorate Black History Month, we do so by honoring iconic figures, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Justice Thurgood Marshall and many other well-known heroes,” said Corbett in a press release. “Today, we are honoring their legacy by recognizing six Pennsylvania ‘everyday heroes’—leaders whose lives and good works this month, and always, serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Among the six individuals honored, were two Pittsburghers—Samuel Black, director of African-American programs at the Senator John Heinz History Center, and Bill Neal, New Pittsburgh Courier sports columnist and CEO and founder of the nonprofit Champion Enterprises.

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SAMUEL BLACK with Gov. Tom and Susan Corbett at the Everyday Heroes Award on Feb. 18 in Harrisburg. (Photos courtesy of the Commonwealth Media Services)

“I never think of myself as an ‘Everyday Hero.’ Individuals in the ‘people business’ never think of it from that perspective. You go day-to-day trying to make a difference, creating opportunities and trying to give young people a better way of life,” said Neal.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to be recognized and complimented for doing something that matters and makes a difference.”

Champion Enterprises has been serving disadvantaged and at-risk youth in the greater Pittsburgh area for 39 years and it holds approximately 25 programs a year, including its basketball clinics and toy drive. But Neal said the success of Champions and what its organization does, goes beyond him. He said there are a lot of people who have contributed their time, resources and support to the success of the organization.

Black, who has been the director at the History Center for 12 years, is also the project director of the Center’s $2 million multimedia exhibition called, “From Slavery to Freedom.” He is also the president of the Association of African American Museums; has been the vice president of the Dr. Edna B. McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life & History and served on the national board; and has written and edited several books, along with being published in several peer review journals, newspapers and magazines.

Along with Neal and Black, the Gov. Corbett also recognized, NFL New Orleans Saints player Marques Colston, Harrisburg News Anchor Valerie Pritchett, Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections John Wetzel and Executive Director of Sisters Returning Home Peggy Sims.

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