*** Awards given at Clifford event

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 25, 2009

CHARLESTON -- During the J.R. Clifford stamp ceremony, awards were given to honor those who have helped bring his story to light.

Dr. Connie Park Rice was given the 2009 J. R. Clifford Award.

"Learning about J.R. Clifford as the first African American attorney to be licensed in West Virginia and helping bring his story to life for a modern audience, has been a rewarding experience," said Rice, a West Virginia native and West Virginia University professor. Rice came upon the story of Clifford in 1995 when she was researching for an African American History of Community Racism Forum in Morgantown.

Rice was born in Key West, Fla., into a Navy family from West Virginia. Two years later, the family moved back to their native state where Connie grew up in Monongalia County with her parents and a brother. She received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D in History from WVU.

Rice has participated in numerous seminars presenting her research about Clifford, including conferences for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Appalachian Studies Association, and the 100th Anniversary of the Niagara Movement (precursor to the NAACP) in Harpers Ferry. Rice has written a biography on Clifford and the struggle for equal rights in West Virginia that will be published later this year.

Rice received a "Living the Dream" Award in 2008 for Scholarship from the Martin Luther King Jr. West Virginia Holiday Commission.

Other awardees were teachers from RESA III who developed Clifford instructional materials for grades 8, 10, 11, and 12, and include Pam Eversole, Tenna Gray, Carol Green, Kathy Jones Gayla May, Margaret Miller, Jayne Shamblin and Todd Statome.

Molly Bloom also was recognized as the high school winner of the YWCA's Eliminating Racism Art Contest.

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