January 12, 2009
Gary R. Grant

Gary R. Grant

Gary R. Grant, executive director of Concerned Citizens of Tillery (N.C.), will speak at the spring commencement ceremony for the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The Concerned Citizens of Tillery is a grassroots activist organization formed in the 1990s in response to industrial hog-farming in eastern North Carolina. Residents of the town of Tillery, led by Grant, banded together to protect the environment and the health and well-being of people and wildlife in the area. Hog waste lagoons, which flooded during heavy rains, were a primary culprit of serious health problems, residents believed.

Grant’s social activism is wide-reaching. He is founding president of the national Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, director of the national Land Loss Fund, and co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. He taught in and served on the board of directors of the Halifax Co. (N.C.) school system, served on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Towns and Cities Advisory Council, and is founding chair of the national Black Family Land Trust, in addition to other positions.

He has received numerous awards, including the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future’s Award for Leadership in Environmental Stewardship and the national Rural Sociological Society’s Distinguished Service to Rural Life Award. A lifelong resident of Halifax County, he holds a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina College (now N.C. Central University) and an honorary doctor of humanities from Eastern North Carolina Theological Institute.

“Gary Grant is an exemplar who has shown the power of organized citizen action to improve not only the environment but also the communities in which we live,” says Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, dean of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. “He is an extraordinary citizen of North Carolina whose work has inspired people around the state and around the country.”

Grant was featured on a locally produced DVD called “Voices of Justice.” A profile of him will appear in the documentary, “Environmental Heroes,” set to air on UNC-TV in May or June 2009.

The School’s commencement ceremony is set for Saturday, May 9 at 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

For more information about commencement activities at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, see http://www.sph.unc.edu/student_affairs commencement_937_8689.html.

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.



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