LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Aug. 31, 2013 - The seven recipients of this year’s MEAC/SWAC Legends Award, which recognizes alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for outstanding contributions, were honored Saturday night at a reception at Walt Disney World Resort. Three of the honorees are alumni of HBCUs in Florida. Held the night before the big game, the Legends Reception not only honors award recipients but also gives them a chance to share their success stories with other weekend attendees.
The MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney football game and the activities leading up to it showcase Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the importance of diversity and education.
Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, graduates of Florida A&M University, and Lucille O’Neal, a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, were among the honorees.
Born and raised in Eatonville, David “Deacon” Jones of South Carolina State University and Mississippi Valley State University was also honored posthumously with the award given to extraordinary alumni who have used their MEAC and SWAC university education to bring excellence to their profession or community.
The full list of honorees and their accomplishments are:
Bernard and Shirley Kinsey have raised more than $22 million for charitable and educational organizations, including $11 million for their alma mater, and have provided scholarships for more than 300 young people to attend college. The Kinseys have most recently become known for their collection of African-American art, books and manuscripts – a portion of which is on exhibit at Epcot – that document the story of more than 400 years of African-American achievement and contributions. Their collection, titled “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect,” has been on a national tour to eight cities, including the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Lucille O’Neal is an author, motivational speaker, business woman and philanthropist as well as a grandmother of 14 and a mother of four, the eldest of whom is NBA champion ShaquilleO’Neal. In her memoir, Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go, O’Neal shares her struggles as a young single mother in the 1970s. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Bethune-Cookman University in 2003. Two years later, she earned a Master of Arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. O’Neal has been involved in many community projects, including the Orlando Chapter of the United Negro College Fund, Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Orlando, Florida Hospital Foundation and more.
David “Deacon” Jones was a National Football League Hall of Fame player from the 1960s and 70s and is considered one of the greatest defensive players of all time, playing for the Los Angeles Rams, the San Diego Chargers and the Washington Redskins. He specialized in quarterback “sacks,” a term he is credited with coining. A few weeks after Jones passed away in June of this year, the NFL announced an award in his name—the Deacon Jones Award, to be given annually to the league leader in sacks.
Chuck Maldonado received his first “stepping”/choreography job when he auditioned as a stepping soloist for the late Michael Jackson’s artistic director, Kenny Ortega. Now he’s a four-time award-winning choreographer for his work with Stomp the Yard, the NAACP Image Awards, and major motion pictures (including Bewitched, Shark Tale, Step Up Revolution, and House Party 5 Tonight’s The Night). He has also appeared as a dancer in films, including Collateral, Blades of Glory, Dreamgirls and Indiana Jones 4, and has also choreographed two major motion picture promotional videos for Disney.
Charlie Neal began his career in radio in Philadelphia and later transitioned to television sports announcing. He began doing play-by-play for the Black Entertainment Network (BET) 23 years ago and has appeared on most major networks and network affiliates. In 2005, Neal brought his talents to ESPN, primarily serving as play-by-play announcer for HBCU football and basketball telecasts on ESPNU. Today, Neal is still doing play-by-play for various sports for ESPN and CBS simultaneously. Neal is acting as well, having most recently appeared in an episode of the Netflix original series “House of Cards.”
Willie Totten is the former head coach of the Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils football team and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. His teams played in Rice-Totten Field, named for him and legendary NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice. Totten completed his Mississippi Valley State career with an astonishing 139 touchdown passes, becoming Division I-AA’s all-time leader and ranking second in career passing yards, with 12,711. He was named first-team All-American after leading the country and setting an all-time single-season touchdown passing record (56) for all divisions. Totten played professionally in the NFL, the Arena Football League as well as the Canadian Football League.