NCAJ Celebrates Heroes In the Fight For Justice at Convention

June 22, 2023

NCAJ celebrated those who embody the spirit and mission of the organization with awards presented during the organization’s Annual Meeting at Convention 2023 in Charlotte on June 17.

The organization’s highest award, the Founders Award went to former NCAJ President David Henson of Henson Fuerst Attorneys in Raleigh. The Founders Award, which honors a member for extraordinary service to justice and to the Advocates for Justice in the tradition of our founding members, Allen Bailey, Charles Blanchard, James Clontz, Eugene Phillips and William Thorp.

Other NCAJ awards went to:

  • Rep. Robert Reives, the Annie Brown Kennedy Award, which recognizes a commitment to acquiring full freedom for all citizens of North Carolina and exceptional advocacy that protects individual liberties.
  • Dan Bryson of Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillip Grossman PLLC in Raleigh, the Thurgood Marshall Award for extraordinary and selfless service to the people of North Carolina in keeping with the legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall
  • Paige Pahlke of Pahlke Law, PLLC and The Greene Family, the Kellie Crabtree Award for a case in which the clients’ stories and the attorneys’ representation has made a real difference in protecting people’s rights
  • Jay Trehy, Trehy Safety Law, the NCAJ Special Award for outstanding leadership and assistance in special circumstances
  • N.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Stroud, Outstanding Appellate Justice Award
  • Rep. Destin Hall, Outstanding Legislator
  • Outstanding Trial Judge AwardJudge Gale Adams

Reives, the House Democratic Leader, is an NCAJ member, who practices with the firm of Wilson, Reives, Silverman & Doran, Attorneys at Law in Sanford. He represents District 54, which includes Chatham and Randolph counties. He told the Convention audience that he considered the Annie Brown Kennedy a great honor because he was so familiar with Annie Brown Kennedy’s legacy.

“When you know the history of Annie Brown Kennedy, it just means something because what she stood for was what every one of you in this room stands for,” he said. “What I appreciate about the practice of law is that it absolutely doesn’t matter what your political persuasion is, what your background is, if you got into law, ultimately what you cared about was helping people and making this world a better place.”

Annie Brown Kennedy, who died in January 2023, was the first Black woman to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly and the second Black woman to gain a law license in North Carolina. An NCAJ member for 29 years before her retirement, she was a dedicated community leader and civil rights activist. Her sons, Harold L. Kennedy III and Harvey L. Kennedy, also NCAJ members, are partners in the firm she founded, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, & Kennedy, LLP, in Winston-Salem. They presented the award.