Jazz musician Ornette Coleman was a Living Legend.
“The people we are recognizing today are history tomorrow,” said Jim Austin, who with his wife, Gloria, founded the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum in Fort Worth. “These are our heroes. These are people who made a difference.”
The museum is in its 22nd year of honoring community leaders with the Dr. Marion J. Brooks Living Legend Award for their outstanding work and contributions.
The 2015 honorees are: Fort Worth City Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, community leader Gary Randle, educator Jennifer Giddings Brooks, business leader Martha Singleton Toombs, Dr. Errol B. Bryce and public affairs specialist Joseph Faust. An award ceremony will be Thursday at the Austin Event Center, 1111 E. Berry St. The event is free to the public.
“Each year we are humbled by the accomplishment of our honorees,” Austin said. “The dedication and passion with which they serve this community in their respective fields is unparalleled, and we are proud to be able to recognize them with the Brooks Living Legend Award.”
The recognition showcases the work of people who have dedicated their lives to community service and helps record local history.
This year that portion of the effort culminates with a collaboration between the museum and the Fort Worth Library. Collectible items, including photographs, plaques and other materials associated with the Living Legends, will become part of the library’s archival collections, said Linda Barrett, senior librarian and archivist for the library.
“This collection is currently composed primarily of photographs of previous recipients of the Living Legends Awards,” she said, adding that the plaques bear resolutions from the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
“It is really great,” Gloria Austin said. “The Fort Worth Library is a wonderful resource.”
There are 106 living legends, including this class, Austin said. Coleman, who made national headlines when he passed away last week, received his award in 2008.
The first award was given to Dr. Brooks in 1994. He practiced medicine for about 50 years and was a respected community activist.
Barrett said Brooks, who passed away in 2003, left a legacy that touched many people. Barrett said that while practicing medicine in Fort Worth’s African-American business district, he worked to integrate Fort Worth hospitals and the school district. He was among the doctors who founded the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Tarrant County in 1971, and was the association’s first president.
The award, originally created by the former Renaissance Cultural Center, was then named in Brooks’ honor.
“He was the closet to Martin Luther King Jr. in this community,” Austin said.
More about this year’s Living Legends:
Government: Gyna Bivens
The Fort Worth city councilwoman was elected to represent District 5 in 2013. She has pushed to revitalize neglected areas in the inner city and expedited the demolition of blighted structures in her district. Bivens graduated from North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in 1977. She has worked as a television and radio reporter and corporate spokeswoman for TXU.
Community: Gary Randle
Randle is the co-founder and executive director of HOPE Farm, where he is also the board president. HOPE Farm is an organization that helps support at-risk boys so they can become “Christ-centered men and future leaders in the community.” Randlecurrently serves on the boards for All Saint’s Episcopal School, Tarrant County Development Corporation and the Christian Prayer Breakfast Fort Worth-Tarrant County. He is a deacon and ordained minister at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
Education: Jennifer Giddings Brooks
A devoted educator, Brooks has served the community on several fronts. She is founder and CEO of Brooks Educational Consultants and has served as director of the Center for Urban Education at TCU, instructor at UNT, degree completion coordinator at Paul Quinn College and principal at Edward. J. Briscoe Elementary School. She serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit agencies, including Performing Arts Fort Worth and the leadership committee of the United Negro College Fund.
Business: Martha Singleton Toombs
She is first black female to be elected to the District 12 State Democratic Executive Committee. Later, she was elected to the National Democratic Executive Committee. She has been affiliated with Texas Coalition, Black Democrats and the Tarrant County Precinct County Worker’s Council. She is also a member of the Tarrant County Historical Commission and serves as the executive director of the Rev. J.F. Singleton Scholarship Foundation.
Health: Dr. Errol B. Bryce
Bryce works to help prevent and reverse chronic noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and obesity. He is president and founder of New Steps to Health, Inc., a nonprofit organization. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American College of Physicians and member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is the chief of medicine emeritus at Baylor All Saints Medical Center.
Public relations: Joseph A. Faust
Faust is director of public affairs at BNSF Railway. He heads and directs BSNF’s relations with the community, local and county governments. He serves as a goodwill ambassador for BNSF in the field and is a liaison for the BNSF Foundation. He helps identify and evaluate nonprofit organizations performing meaningful work in communities in which BNSF operates.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675
If you go
The 2015 Dr. Marion J. Brooks Living Legends Award Ceremony is scheduled for Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Austin Event Center, 1111 East Berry St., Fort Worth.
To attend , RSVP to email@example.com by Tuesday, June 16 at 5 p.m.
Admission is free.
For more information about the National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum visit www.cowboysofcolor.org or call 817-922-9999.