Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Advocacy for African causes garners honors for Wichita attorney

September 4, 2002


— Barbara James spends her spare time trekking to NAACP conventions and organizing a town hall meeting to discuss reparations for the descendants of slaves.

And the Wichita attorney's devotion to African causes hasn't gone unnoticed. A national group that usually honors well-known people or corporations will recognize James this month.

She will receive one of the Constituency for Africa's service awards, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Irish rock star Bono.

"Go figure," James said of the award. "I still cannot believe it. I keep thinking perhaps I misunderstood. It's great news."

Constituency for Africa, an 11-year-old nonprofit organization, presents a series of annual discussions on Africa in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference.

James won the group's Grassroots Leadership Award. Powell will receive the Constituent of the Year award and Bono, the lead singer for the rock group U2, will be honored with the Humanitarian Service Award.

"I've known Barbara for many years," said Melvin Foote, the constituency's executive director. "We've been overwhelmingly impressed with her spirit."

James, referred to on the organization's Web site as a "gadfly for African concerns," helped monitor the Republic of South Africa's first all-race election. And she helped coordinate relief efforts for Somalia and Rwanda with local churches.

Foote said recognizing James' efforts should show community-level activists that they, too, can make a difference.

James will receive the award during the Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series to be staged Monday through Sept. 17 in Washington.

"This," James said of the award, "was more than I ever could have expected to gain."

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