Nine set to receive state’s highest honor

FILE - Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, appears before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to discuss vaccines and protecting public health during the coronavirus pandemic on Capitol Hill, on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in Washington. Collins says he is stepping down by the end of the year, having led the research center for 12 years and becoming a prominent source of public information during the coronavirus pandemic. A formal announcement was expected Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021 from NIH. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP, File)

RALEIGH — The state’s highest civilian honor, the North Carolina Award, will be presented to nine distinguished North Carolinians Thursday, Nov. 18, at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Gov. Roy Cooper will present the award.

The award was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science. Since its inception, more than 250 notable men and women have been honored by the state of North Carolina. Past recipients include William Friday, Romare Bearden, James Taylor, Gertrude Elion, John Hope Franklin, David Brinkley, Maya Angelou, Billy Graham and Branford Marsalis.

The 2020 honorees are Dr. Ralph S. Baric, Dr. Francis S. Collins and Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett. All will receive the North Carolina Award for Science in recognition of their work to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

The 2021 honorees are Dr. Dudley E. Flood for Public Service, David Holt for Fine Arts, Maria F. Spaulding for Public Service, André Leon Talley for Literature, Dr. Timothy B. Tyson for Literature and Dr. Blake S. Wilson for Science.

“Through their extraordinary accomplishments, these individuals have enriched North Carolina and our nation,” said Reid Wilson, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Each of them has enhanced the lives of North Carolinians through their lasting achievements in the arts, sciences and public service.”

The 2020-2021 awards event is sponsored by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, CBC/WRAL Community Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.