N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--July 1998

Annual Minority Pioneers reunion held

GOLDSBORO — Herman Bridges, a former superintendent at Sandy Ridge Correctional Center, was awarded the Lewyn Hayes Award during the 1998 gathering of the Minority Pioneers in Goldsboro.

Herman Bridges

The Annual Reunion of the Minority Pioneers is held each year in the spring and is a time for longtime and new employees to come together to celebrate the contributions and achievements of minority employees within the Department of Correction. Minority Pioneer employees include African Americans who were initially hired in the late 1950s and early 1960s on up to today’s employees.

Each year, the group selects one individual for its top honor, the Lewyn Hayes Award. Bridges, who was chosen as this year’s recipient, was instrumental in the successful entry of blacks into the Divison of Prisons. Other nominees included Hattie Butler, Harry Chambers and James French.

Joe Lofton said that Bridges was one of the initial pioneers in the department.

"He was employed when the road was just a path," he said. "He helped to blazon the trail and helped build bridges over the trail to widen it to a road that we could mutually travel. We can say that he was a true and dedicated engineer of better conditions and inclusiveness for all. We share in congratulating him for winning this award."

Bridges began his career with the department in 1961 as a correctional officer at McLeansville, where he was later promoted to sergeant in 1962. In 1969, he was promoted to lieutenant at Sandy Ridge before becoming superintendent in 1981. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1990.

The Honorable Judge Elaine O’Neal of the 14th Judicial District spoke during the awards dinner on Saturday evening. The dinner was a gala but also a solemn affair since it took place on the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. While addressing the group, Judge O’Neal encouraged a return to the idea of the whole community raising the child. She proclaimed that it takes the whole community to help stop juvenile delinquency and to help save the children from the hands of the criminal justice system.

The evening closed with a commitment to continue the remembrance and celebration of the contributions of the Minority Pioneers and to plan for the celebration of the Minority Pioneers' 50th anniversary. u