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Sixth Annual Living Legends Awards honors Seven Individuals for their Contributions


From left to right: Dr. Nikesha Nesbitt, dean of University College; Adrian and Brianna Rodgers, children of honoree Susan Woods Rodgers; LaGanzie Kale and Zharia Davis, representatives of honoree Qubilah Jones; Cora Martin; Rev. Dr. Ray Scales; Dr. Herman Strickland;
Maj, Gen. Elder Granger; Dr. Lonnie Williams, vice chancellor; and Dr. Calvin White Jr., provost

JONESBORO – The sixth annual Living Legends Awards ceremony was hosted over the weekend by Arkansas State University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs along with the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement.The awards were held on Saturday, Feb. 24, in the auditorium of Reng Student Union. 

This year, seven recipients were selected for the honor. Recipients include retired Maj. Gen. Elder Granger, retired Lt. Col. Frederick C. Turner Jr., Cora Martin, Rev. Dr. Ray Scales, and Dr. Herman Strickland. Those being awarded posthumously include Elder Susan Woods Rodgers and Qubilah Jones.

Elder Granger is an A-State alumnus and retired from the U. S. Army. The recipient of more than 30 military and community service awards, Granger has also reached back to help current and future students. Along with other members of Alpha Phi Alpha, Granger contributed to an endowment of $50,000 to create a scholarship.

Frederick Turner Jr. was honored in 2021 with the naming of the Lt. Col. Frederick C. Turner Jr. Military Science Building. Turner was one of the first two African Americans to obtain a degree from A-State. In addition, he is also one of the namesakes of the Strong-Turner Alumni Chapter of the A-State Alumni Association.Cora Martin was honored for her more than 15 years of hard work in the Office of Financial Aid. She has been a resource to the office, helping students from her position at the front desk. Students who have been helped by Martin over the years have found her to be a great listener, resourceful, and caring when helping guide them.

Rev. Dr. Ray Scales is the founding and emeritus pastor of the New Mount Zion Baptist Church. He was one of the first African Americans hired at KAIT-TV. Scales was one of the early organizers of the Northeast Arkansas Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Planning Committee, of which he is now chairman emeritus.

Dr. Herman Strickland was one of the first four African American faculty members hired by A-State. He went on to become dean of University College and a deacon at First Baptist Church. He was a resource on campus for other faculty and staff and was an adviser when bringing the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity to campus. Strickland was part of “The Circle,” which inspired an apartment complex which opened in 2017 with buildings named for the first four African American faculty. He and his wife Maxcine have endowed a scholarship to assist deserving A-State students, in addition to contributing to two scholarships endowed in their son’s name, the late Herman Strickland Jr. Two individuals are being honored posthumously, including Elder Susan Woods Rodgers. Rodgers, alongside her husband Bishop Adrian Rodgers, founded Fullness of Joy Ministries. They co-pastored the church until she passed away in 2018. Those who knew her said she was very intelligent, full of grace, and had a real heart for people and loved people beyond their flaws.The late Qubilah Jones is most known for her work with radio station KLEK-FM. Her voice was one of the most recognized voices through the program “Community Conversations.” Known for her interview segments, Jones developed and hosted programs on the air and within the community. She passed away in 2023.

Those honored at the event were recognized for the work they have done in Northeast Arkansas and beyond. Nominations were taken from the A-State campus and the surrounding community.

“This is another great class of individuals being recognized for the work they have done to make this world a more welcoming place,” said Dr. Lonnie Williams, vice chancellor of the Division of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement. He said each of the honorees has set a positive example that continues to influence others to be successful.“They are silent motivators, people who go about their daily lives, without fanfare, in a way that captures your attention and motivates you to want to be better...to be someone who wants to be a difference maker,” he added.The honorees this year join more than 20 others who have received this honor since the inception of the award in 2019.