2018 Brotherhood/Sisterhood Citation Award Honorees


Mary Lou Blakeney


Mary Lou Blakeney is a beloved champion of Civil Rights and youth leadership in High Point. At age 15, Blakeney teamed up with a small group of other teens from William-Penn and High Point (now Central) High Schools and became the first high school students in the nation to stage their own Civil Rights activities. Inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins launched days earlier, they staged sit-ins at the Woolworth’s in High Point on February 11, 1960 to integrate that store’s lunch counter.


Blakeney’s role as a youth leader was just the beginning. She continued working to advance Civil Rights and equality, even while pursuing a career as a registered nurse. Blakeney has enjoyed a celebrated civic career in High Point, where she’s widely known for her commitment to serving her community. She mentors young people, sharing the story of the 1960 sit-ins and the long struggle for Civil Rights, and was instrumental in saving and restoring William Penn High School (now Penn-Griffin School for the Arts). In 2008, Blakeney was elected as an at-large High Point City Councilwoman. She works closely with many organizations, including the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Macedonia Family Resource Center, and the Commission on Aging. Her service to our community has been recognized by many awards, including the High Point Housing Authority’s Pillar of Fame Award, McDonald's Rhythms of Triumph Community Award of Excellence, and the International Civil Rights Center & Museum’s Sit-In Heroine Award.


Joe M. Bryan, Jr.


Joe M. Bryan, Jr. is a philanthropic powerhouse known for quietly supporting good causes from behind the scenes. For more than 50 years, he has enriched the Triad through his extraordinary generosity to the arts and higher education and his commitment to improving the quality of life for everyone in our community. Believing that education is the key to creating the kind of society in which we all wish to live, Bryan has been a great friend to many universities and schools in the area. Over more than 40 years as a Guilford College trustee, his leadership and guidance have been central to advancing the policies and practices to shape the already socially-conscious campus into a beacon of diversity and inclusion. Notably, he also established the college’s Bryan Series, which has exposed the Triad community to a diverse slate of internationally renowned speakers for two decades.


Bryan’s work in the arts has helped make the arts accessible to everyone, from creating public spaces such as the Price/Bryan Performance Place at Festival Park to ensuring that generous scholarships exist to give all young musicians the chance to develop their talents through the Eastern Music Festival. His philanthropic work illustrates his deep commitment to expanding opportunities and improving the quality of life for our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens. Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, Guilford Green Foundation, Triad Health Project, the Medical Foundation of UNC, NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad and the YMCA are some of many community organizations that have benefited from Bryan’s generous and often transformative support over the years. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Guilford College’s Distinguished Service Award, the O. Henry Award from Arts Greensboro, the Charles Duncan McIver Award from UNCG, and the North Carolina Award for Public Service, which is the highest civilian honor given by our state.