James B. Hunt, Jr. Receives Champion of Justice Award

September 14, 2016

DURHAM, NC – The North Carolina Justice Center named Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. a recipient of the 2016 Champion of Justice Award for his accomplishments and commitment to students, families and communities. The award was given at the N.C. Justice Center’s 20th anniversary gala on Sept. 10, 2016, in Raleigh.

The Center also presented the award to James Andrews, president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO; state Rep. Henry “Mickey” Michaux Jr.; former University of North Carolina System leader Tom Ross; and former Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation head Leslie Winner. I. Beverly Lake Jr., former chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, received the Executive Director’s Award for Service for his work in creating the nation’s first actual innocence commission and advocating for reforms of the criminal justice system. 

The Champion of Justice Award is a tribute to those that have fought tirelessly in the struggle for opportunity and justice for all. The N.C. Justice Center, founded in 1996, is the state’s leading research and advocacy organization dedicated to transforming North Carolina’s prosperity into opportunity for all. Their mission is to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring that every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs in order to enjoy economic security. 

“The pursuit of justice requires we all perform our duty and obligation in that quest, generation to generation,” Executive Director Rick Glazier said in a statement. “In doing so, we also honor those who set the path, light the way and lead by the deepest and purest of examples.” 

Gov. Hunt is a nationally recognized leader in education and has been at the forefront of state and national education reform. As governor (1977-1985, 1993-2001), he focused on early childhood development and the improvement of quality of teaching. Among his many successes in education, his early education program, Smart Start, has been emulated by states across the nation and received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Hunt also focused on the improvement of teaching quality, set high standards for K-12 public schools, and was a national leader in ensuring rigorous accountability for student performance. In the 1980’s, Hunt and the Carnegie Corporation of New York created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which he chaired for 10 years. In the last decade of his governorship, the schools of North Carolina increased NAEP scores more than any other state in America. His work has been recognized with numerous national awards, and in 2006, he was named one of the 10 most influential people in American education, along with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.


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