30th Annual Carter G. Woodson Award Ceremony

Carter G. Woodson

The Honors Academy at Southwest will present Memphis artist Ruby O’Gray the 2018 Carter Godwin Woodson Award of Merit Feb. 6 at 11 a.m.in the Verties Sails Gymnasium on the Union Avenue Campus. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary for the award established by former Southwest professor Clarence Christian to recognize individuals, groups or agencies who have contributed to, preserved or promoted the African-American experience and who support Dr. Woodson’s legacy of historical accuracy through inclusion. Recipients also must work or live within Southwest’s service area or have a significant connection to the college.

O’Gray is an accomplished actor with more than 40 years of experience in an art form she says chose her. Getting to the stage was not easy. Young Ruby dropped out of high school at 16 to care for her ailing mother who died just three weeks before her seventeenth birthday. In mourning, but undeterred, Ruby earned her GED with high marks and enrolled in Shelby State Community College, now Southwest Tennessee Community College. Ruby eventually enrolled in the University of Memphis where she obtained a Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree with a focus on African Studies, all while being active in the local theatre community in several capacities. O’Gray went on to enjoy an illustrious career that included writing more than 70 plays, working with thousands of youth and hundreds of adults, forming three theatre companies—O’Gray Productions, Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company and the biennial Women’s Theatre Festival of Memphis event—and publishing her first book in 2016, Running Away to Home.

We are proud of Ruby and all of our distinguished Carter Godwin Woodson Award of Merit recipients, Honors Academy Associate Director Malinda Wade said. They all have demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to Dr. Woodson’s principles. Previous recipients include the late civil rights icon Dr. Maxine A. Smith, Christ Missionary Baptist Church Senior Pastor Reverend Dr. Gina Stewart, Hattiloo Theater Founder and CEO Ekundayo Bandele, local attorney and education reformer Rita Geier and University of Memphis Associate Professor of History Dr. Beverly Bond.

For more information about the Woodson Award ceremony, please contact Dr. Malinda Wade at mwade@southwest.tn.edu or 901-333-5357.