TRENTON, N.J. — Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, former NFL coach Bill Parcells and "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve are among the nominees for the New Jersey Hall of Fame's 2012 class.
The hall announced the nominees for its fifth class on Tuesday. In all, there are 50 nominees from the fields of arts and entertainment, sports, enterprise and history.
Gillespie and Parcells, both of Englewood, and Reeve, of Princeton, were joined by artist Alexander Calder of Hoboken and Revolutionary War heroine Molly Pitcher of Trenton.
It's now up to voters to choose. They have until January to cast their ballots at www.NJHallofFame.org .
The top two vote-getters in each category will be inducted in June.
Previous inductees include Civil Rights activist Paul Robeson, rock musician Bruce Springsteen, actor Jack Nicholson and Olympian Carl Lewis. -- (AP)
In the eyes of many Philadelphians, Paul Robeson did it all. From collegiate valedictorian to star athlete, to acclaimed singer and Harlem Renaissance actor, he achieved numerous accolades in his 77-year life. In spite of challenges and acts of hatred, Robeson persevered and never gave up, no matter how difficult his journey.
While attending Rutgers University, Robeson was only one of two African-American students during his tenure. In freshman year, the 17-year-old student-athlete survived a near-death experience – all at the hands of his football teammates.
In 1994, The West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance put 4951 Walnut St. on the historic map with the ownership and operation his former home, now notably called The Paul Robeson House.
The following year, almost 20 years after his death, Robeson was fully recognized for his athletic achievements when he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
For the past 11 years, WPCA has celebrated the life of Robeson with its Annual Jazz Jamboree and tribute to community leaders. This recent event, held at the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, recognized individuals who continue to build upon Robeson’s legacy.
According to WPCA Founder Frances Aulston, the focus of the yearly celebration is to recognize those who, with passion and conviction, have contributed to a greater understanding of social, political and human rights awareness.
Young Friends Society honoree Joel Wilson was selected because of his contribution to youth in preparing and empowering them with life skills that create a pathway for success in life.
“I am honored to be given an award named after such a great man. As an entrepreneur, I have sustained my business for over 20 years and provided jobs to over 50 individuals during that time. I am proud to been an advocate in movements that have impacted the African-American community,” said Joel Wilson.
“My family has always encouraged me to use my talents to embrace a career where I am able to help others achieve their goals,” said Jalena Wilson, niece of award recipient Joel Wilson.
“My uncle empowers others through his professional endeavors by always bringing access to technology within the community he was raised. He encourages me and other young adults to continue learning, reading and increasing math and technology skills.
I am proud of the work he does with the Cub Scouts because this really makes a difference in the lives of so many,” she said.
Event volunteer and West Philadelphia resident Ernest Carter felt this annual event is always a time to bring the community together for a greater cause.
“Our Philadelphia schools are struggling. Paul Robeson fought hard for education and his own political views. Today we have a lack of participation, yet there are so many resources, including this community center,” said Carter.
This year’s Freedom Fighter Award recipients include Rev. Gus Roman, Custodian of Wisdom; J. Whyatt Mondesire, Social Justice; Charlotte Black Alston, Spirit of the Griot; Larry Robbin, Patron of the Arts; Glen Ellis, Community Activist; E. Steven Collins, Keeper of the Culture; Everett Staten, Crusader of Freedom; James Harper Jr., Voice of Justice; Jettie Newkirk, Voice of Justice; and Joel Wilson, Young Friends Society.
The jamboree showcased some of the areas greatest musical talents, including Ralph Penn & Friends vocalist Juanita Holiday, tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes, jazz sensation Sadayah Galloway on drums and Jon Holton on the keyboard.
The primary mission of The Paul Robeson House is to heighten awareness of the life, legacy and philosophy of Robeson and his historical significance to the Philadelphia region, the state of Pennsylvania, the nation and the world. For more information, visit www.wpc-alliance.org.