Eric Church, pioneering politicians who receive North Carolina’s highest award


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two history-making black politicians and country music star Eric Church were among the final six winners of North Carolina’s highest civilian honor announced Thursday.

On November 15, Governor Roy Cooper will present the North Carolina Awards, which were created more than 60 years ago to recognize significant contributions to the state and country in various fields.

Church, a native of Granite Falls, has received many Grammy Award nominations. Some of his best singles include “Drink in My Hand” and “Springsteen.” He has also won multiple awards from the Academy of Country Music and the County Music Association, including the 2020 CMA Entertainer of the Year.

Other new recipients include U.S. Representative Eva Clayton from Warren County, who was the first African-American woman to represent North Carolina in Congress when she took office in 1992. She was also the state’s first black representative since 1901.

Former Durham legislator Mickey Michaux is also recognized. He served in the state legislature for more than 45 years, nearly all of that time in the House, where he served as chief budget writer in the late 2000s. He was appointed federal prosecutor in 1977, becoming the first African-American to hold that position in the South since Reconstruction, according to the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Other recipients include Dr. Priya S. Kishnani, professor and researcher at Duke University School of Medicine; Stanley Riggs, a longtime East Carolina University marine geologist and expert on the coast and climate change; and journalist David Zucchino, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. Zucchini received a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for his book on the 1898 overthrow of the Wilmington government by white supremacists.


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