TMCNet:  Brown, Coleman receive Order of the Long Leaf Pine award

[April 04, 2012]

Brown, Coleman receive Order of the Long Leaf Pine award

Apr 04, 2012 (The Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Onslow County has two more residents added to the list of accomplished citizens bestowed with the North Carolina's most prestigious award.

Margaret E. Brown and Fannie Coleman were both recently honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award during North East Community Development's Intriguing African American Woman ceremony.

Since 1965, the award has been presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state through many years of dedication to their careers and organizations and community service. Both residents of Jacksonville, Brown and Coleman were recognized for their years of contributions to educational, political and social causes in the community.

Brown, who served as a member, vice chair and chair for Onslow County Board of Education for 13 years, was nominated for the award by Kathy Spencer, superintendent of Onslow County Schools. Coleman, who was nominated by Mayor Sammy Phillips, has been a longtime supporter of the Onslow County civil rights movement and became the first black woman to serve on Jacksonville City Council. Both women were present at the ceremony to honor other accomplished black women in the area but were unaware they would also be recognized for their years of continuous support to the community.

"I have done so many things by serving on committees and volunteering and I was very happy and surprised to have gotten the award," Coleman said. "With all of things that I've done, I think I deserved it." Brown served for 32 years of federal service as the superintendent of position classification for Camp Lejeune. She also volunteered with the senior citizens program at the Jacksonville Police Department to contact and greet seniors living alone, reminding them to take their medications and stay on track with their appointments.

"My passion is for the young people and the seniors, and I feel these are groups of people that are not always able to take care of themselves," Brown said. "I have the feeling that someone needs to do it, and why not me? I just enjoy doing things for other people." Although becoming a school board member was something Brown had always longed to do, she was inspired to carry on the unexpired term of her late husband James C. Brown, who was vice chair at the time of his death. She is now on her third term since she was first elected and has received the highest number of votes of all candidates running for any of the offices on the ballot in the entire county each time.

In addition to serving on the city council, Coleman served as the head nurse for the pediatrics clinic at U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune for 29 years and became a proponent of affordable housing for all citizens in Jacksonville and Onslow County and equal voting rights for black people over the past four decades. Coleman also attributed her inspiration for her service to her late husband Hurtis, who was a barber, a longtime advocate for the NAACP and owner of Hurtis Coleman Enterprise building company. The couple had been married for 50 years at the time of his death in 1998.

"I have to give the credit to my husband," Coleman said. "He was about seeing that black people got their rightful places, and that inspired me to go forward to do the things I should do in order to have been honored for the Long Leaf Pine, as well has have serving the city." In addition to the Long Leaf Pine, Onslow County Political Action Committee also recognized Brown and Coleman on March 17 for their years of service to the black community through political service.

Coleman said that both she and Brown have served on several of the same committees together in the community. They hope that their efforts will continue to pave the way for their families and for other women.

"My siblings were here for the presentation and they are all advocates for children and excited about school work," Brown said. "I hope to continue to serve still and I hope to spend rest of my life serving others." Contact Aniesa Holmes at 910-219-8473 or

___ (c)2012 The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.) Visit The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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