The Denver Public Library honored leaders in Denver’s African American community at the Juanita Gray Community Service Awards and the Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame induction ceremony in early February. The event was held at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Five Points.
Annually, the Denver Public Library along with the Library Commission honors African American men, women and youth who have made outstanding contributions to the Denver Metro area through the Juanita Gray Community Service Awards. Juanita Gray was a former library staff member and community advocate. The awards were established in 1988 to honor Gray’s legacy, dedication and advocacy of the African American community. Each year, the Juanita Gray Awards committee consisting of community and staff members ask the community for their nominations and selects a winner.
The 2020 Juanita Gray Community Service Award recipient is Rose Andom. A pillar of the Denver community, Andom is a successful businesswoman who overcame adversity to rise through the ranks of corporate America. The Rose Andom Center benefiting the survivors of domestic violence was opened in Andom’s name in 2016.
Jaidyn C. Fears is the 2020 Youth Award recipient. Fears is a high school senior committed to serving her community. She is also a former After School is Cool program assistant at the Pauline Robinson Branch Library in Park Hill and the former president of a teen program at Boys and Girls Club.
This year’s nominees also included Stephan Evans (Chairman Seku) and Everette Freeman.
The Blacks in Colorado Hall of Fame honor is given to a Coloradan who has been the first African American to accomplish a professional goal in their field and/or who has actively supported the African American community while achieving his or her goal. Individuals are inducted every other year.
This year, former Denver Fire Chief Roderick Juniel was selected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Roderick is a native of Denver, a proud graduate of Manual High, and a 29-year veteran of the Denver Fire Department. Juniel was the first African American to hold the position of Chief of the Denver Fire Department. During Juniel’s tenure as Chief of the department, he was responsible for managing 950 firefighters and administering a $100 million annual budget.
“Each year the library is honored to recognize the winners and nominees who have made such an impact on our community,” said Michelle Jeske, Denver’s City Librarian. “The library is dedicated to serving the community and we are proud to kick off our Black History Month celebrations with this special event.”