City of South Bend honors local leaders for Black History Month

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The city of South Bend and the Black History Month committee are honoring 13 local leaders. These leaders have all made important contributions to South Bend’s history and culture. The 13 recipients include South Bend fire chief Carl Buchanon, and Director of the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and Assistant Professor, Darryl Heller as well as principal of Harrison Elementary school, Karla Lee.  

The city is also honoring some recipients with specific awards. Tyler Rouse is being honored as Leaders under Forty for his work for the South Bend Empowerment Zone and his role as a peacebuilder and his dedication to interrupt the school to prison pipeline. And finally, Niele Ivey is receiving a special tribute as the first black female head coach in the history of Notre Dame. Prior to this role, she was the ninth active female coach in the NBA during her time as an Assistant Coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.  

ABC57 spoke with some recipients about what the award meant for them.

“I was told a long time ago, it is always important to give your flowers while you are here. I do appreciate that they thought enough about me and the others as well that they are giving me my flowers while I am here,” says Debra Walker, recipient.  

Walker is one of 13 local leaders being recognized for her contribution to the community in celebration of Black History Month. Walker has been the outreach coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past 35 years. She attributes her passion for the community back to her own upbringing.

“Had several mentors who came before me, who were put in my life at crucial times. I was raised by a village of mentors. I grew up on the West side. I went to Harrison school, and I had some phenomenal teachers there who looked like me, understood me, and directed me,” says Walker.  

Harold Brazier is also being recognized for his leadership. The South Bend native is a former #1 ranked boxer in the world who owns a local gym, BrazierFit Boxing. Harold opened the gym in partnership with his son, Cory Brazier, who is also being recognized by the city as the recipient of the Obama award.

“Now there is not a parent who does not want their son or daughter to succeed in life. Each generation wants their kids, their children, and grandchildren to do better than they did. To see my son, to watch him be born, watch him come in the world, watch him every day of his life and see him go from a boy to a young man to a full-grown adult man. It is a thrill to me,” says Brazier.

Even after retiring with 124 professional boxing matches and 10 titles, for Brazier, it is his legacy that keeps him going each and every day.

“My legacy. I want to leave a legacy and a heritage for my grandchildren’s children. I do not work for myself, I work for my children and their children, and so that’s what keeps me going and getting up every day,” says Brazier.  

Each recipient will be featured on a series of digital billboards located on the intersections of Angela Boulevard and Indiana 23, Ironwood Drive and Indiana 23, and Ironwood Drive and Lincolnway East. Awardees will also be honored at the Black History Month celebration which will be held virtually Thursday at 6 p.m.  You can participate and learn further information about the recipients here.

Share this article: