Durham County

Who’s getting NC’s top civilian award? 2 from Durham, 1 from Chapel Hill

Two people from Durham and another from Chapel Hill will receive North Carolina’s highest civilian honor next month from Gov. Roy Cooper.

Durham architect Philip Freelon, founder of The Freelon Group, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is from Durham, and political and digital communications pioneer Jane Smith Patterson of Chapel Hill are among the six recipients of the North Carolina Award.

Freelon is being honored for his contributions in fine arts, while Lynch and Patterson are being recognized for public service.

“It is such a privilege to honor these remarkable people who have made North Carolina better through their extraordinary accomplishments,” said secretary of the N. C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Susi H. Hamilton. “Each of them has enriched the lives of our citizens and enhanced our state’s reputation as a center of culture, arts, science and public service.”

Freelon is the architect of record for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. He also has left his mark locally and across the country with designs of museums and cultural institutions, from Durham Bulls Athletic Park to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Freelon is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and recipient of many professional awards.

Lynch is the daughter of a Baptist minister father and school librarian mother. She earned undergraduate and law school degrees at Harvard and became U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York before serving as U.S. Attorney General. Lynch was the first African-American woman to hold that post. She is the recipient of the Harvard Law School Alumni Award and many other honors.

Patterson, who lives in Chapel Hill, has been an advocate for equality for women and minorities throughout her life. She is a native of Tabor City and has worked to promote access to technology and broadband communications in rural North Carolina. She served as executive director of the e-NC Authority, an organization with a goal of bringing affordable high-speed Internet access to rural parts of the state.

The other honorees are Margaret Donovan Bauer of Greenville for literature, R.K.M. Jayanty of Cary for science, and James H. Woodward of Charlotte for Public Service. The awards are administered by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and will be presented on Nov. 9 during a ceremony in Raleigh.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews