Watson College Announces 2022 Razor Walker Award Recipients

For 27 years, the Watson College of Education at UNC Wilmington has sponsored the Razor Walker Awards. This prestigious honor recognizes North Carolinians from all walks of life for their tireless and often courageous efforts to enhance the quality of life for children and youth in our state. These leaders come from an array of areas including the arts and literature, law, public service and policy, business, medicine, education and philanthropy. The recipients have included leaders in government, in some of the largest agencies and businesses in our state, and in our neighborhoods and communities. In all cases, the awardees “walk the razor’s edge” on behalf of children, families and communities.

In April, the Watson College of Education will present 2022 Razor Walker Awards to one organization and three individuals. The College is pleased to announce that this year’s honorees are Wilmington Health Access for Teens of Coastal Horizons, Inc., Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, First Lady Kristin Cooper and Major General Joseph A. McNeil (Ret).

“Each year the Razor Walker awards give us an opportunity to recognize, honor, and celebrate leaders in our communities and across North Carolina who have committed their lives to making those for children and families better, and our communities stronger,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “They are advocates, are courageous and tenacious, and often times take action in ways that call for sacrifice for themselves and their families. We can see that in the most compelling and powerful ways in this year’s recipients. They represent the best of us, the best we can be as human beings, and what lives grounded in love and care can create. We are all inspired and humbled by how these people lead and the examples they are for us.”

Wilmington Health Access for Teens (WHAT) of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. -- Medicine, Health and Wellness

WHAT of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. provides children, teens and young adults access to comprehensive primary medical care, mental health, and preventative services. WHAT believes that health, learning and success in school are interconnected; that medical care should be prevention-focused and patient-centered; and that increasing access means finding ways to minimize scheduling, transportation, and financial barriers.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II – Public Service/Policy

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II has devoted most of his adult life as a spiritual leader and moral activist to mobilize forces to create equal opportunities and justice for youth and families throughout North Carolina and the country, especially those who are poor or low-wealth. Dr. Barber is committed in his work to the inextricable link between community environment and constructive outcomes for children. His work in the ministry, advocacy and public service has immeasurably impacted the lives of youth and family. Dr. Barber has been arrested 15 times as he joined with others in nonviolent civil disobedience. He leads and serves as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair for the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival.

First Lady Kristin Cooper -- Public Service/Policy

Kristin Cooper, First Lady of North Carolina, uses her voice and platform to champion children’s well-being. She is primarily focused on the issues of foster care, child abuse and neglect, childhood hunger, early childhood development and literacy, and children’s access to the arts and nature for health and wellness. She has served as Guardian ad Litem for foster children in Wake County since 2003. Mrs. Cooper has worked with SmartStart and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide books for young children. She has partnered with No Kid Hungry to expand school breakfast in 10 school districts.

Major General Joseph A. McNeil (Ret) -- Public Service/Policy

Joseph McNeil - born and raised in Wilmington, a graduate of Williston High School and North Carolina A&T University, and a retired Air Force major general - is best known for his contributions to the civil rights movement as a member of the Greensboro Four. On February 1, 1960, Mr. McNeil and three other NC A&T freshmen sat down at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro and refused to leave until served. The act inspired nonviolent sit-ins across the South and was the catalyst for a social movement that challenged racial segregation. It became the cornerstone for major civil rights legislation.

The 2022 Razor Walker Awards will be presented at a dinner for the honorees, their families and other invited guests at the UNCW Burney Center on April 5.