W.H. Gray Community Service Award Recipients
We appreciate all you do for our youth and the community!
CIAA Coach of The Year (Ret.)
Malcolm "Zeke" Avery learned how to win, educate young men and build character as far back as he can remember. As an athlete himself, Mr. Avery was known for not only talking the talk, but walking the walk off the mat, field or court. Perhaps a little more humble than most, a little more seriously than others.
Thus, here are the ensuing results. While at Norfolk State,he was a member of the wrestling team and a three-year letterman on the Spartans baseball team where he played both third base and shortstop. He spent one basketball season as a walk-on and another as a student assistant under Fears (one of his team averaged 107 points a game). He was also a pole-vaulter on the track and field team.
When he “inherited” the Booker T. Washington basketball program after coach Milbourne’s tenure he maintained the Bookers’ reputation for winning with class, and defensive swagger. Ensuing, he led Booker T. to two Virginia High School League state championships. Along the way he’d garner numerous Eastern District and Eastern Region championships. His record at the prep level was 191-61. He was the recipient of two Norfolk Sports Club and Virginian Pilot Sports Writers Coach of the Year awards; six regional appearances and four state championship appearances.
Mr. Avery was named head basketball coach at Hampton University in 1987. He spent eight years at the helm of the Pirates program compiling a record of 138-82. In 1991 he guided Hampton to the CIAA Tournament Championship earning him the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach award as well as being named the CIAA Coach of the Year. His first Pirates squad advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament (South Atlantic Region) for only the second time in school history.
Mr. Avery served 19 years as a member of the Hampton University family, three as the Director of Athletics.
During his three years overseeing Pirates athletics, he guided Hampton to 15 conference titles and five Talmadge Layman Hill and Mary McLeod Bethune All-Sports Awards presented to the MEAC’s top overall sports program.After retiring, returned as athletic director on an interim basis at the behest of the university’s president Dr. William Harvey.
Now semi-retired, Mr. Avery stays active as an educational advocate for education, community service. He continues to advise a new generation of coaches as a consultant, basketball camp speaker and lecturer.
Gilbert T. Bland is President and Chairman of the Urban League of Hampton Roads.
Mr. Bland has been an owner/operator of quick service restaurants for over 30 years, primarily as a franchisee of Burger King and Pizza Hut. In this capacity, he has owned, constructed and operated over 70 restaurants in Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. and employed over 2000 team members annually. The restaurants have been sold. Mr. Bland began his career as a commercial lending officer for the Continental Bank of Chicago and served as a Vice-President for commercial lending for the Independence Bank of Chicago.
Mr. Bland is the recipient of numerous awards and community recognitions. In May, 2017, Mr. Bland received an honorary degree from Longwood University. For the past five years, Mr. Bland has been chosen by Virginia Business Magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential Virginians.
Mr. Bland was recently named a member of the Governor’s Virginia Complete Count Commission(2020 Census count) and a Board member of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts(VMFA). Bland was actively engaged and advocated for the creation of a think tank to explore public policy issues affecting African Americans and minorities of color with the Urban League of Hampton Roads and Norfolk State University. The effort will be known as CAAMPP(Center for African American Public Policy) and was funded by the VIRGINIA General Assembly.
Additionally, Bland successfully advocated for state legislation in Virginia to establish an African American Advisory Council to advise the Governor on issues of concern affecting the health, economic, professional, cultural, and educational prosperity of the African American communities in Virginia.
Mr. Bland is the former Chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and served on its Executive Committee for 7 years. Mr. Bland currently serves as a Board member for Sentara Healthcare; Virginia Chamber of Commerce; Randolph Macon College; Hampton Roads Community Foundation and serves as Board Chairman and President of Healthy Neighborhood Enterprises, a community development corporation. Past board service includes Old Dominion University and James Madison University Foundation(12 years); national Board of Directors of the Burger King National Franchise Association(10 years) and was elected to 5 terms as national President of the Burger King Minority Franchise Association. Bland is a charter Board member of the Burger King Inclusion Advisory Committee. Burger King Corporation has honored Mr. Bland with the James McLamore Founder’s award for outstanding contributions as a franchisee and endowed a scholarship in his name at James Madison University.
Mr. Bland received a B. S. in accounting and economics from James Madison University and a MBA from Atlanta University.
Urban League President/CEO
College Student Honoree
Michael Stephan Adams, Jr. is a senior Psychology major from the Civil Rights Capital Atlanta, Georgia. He is a highly motivated individual who prizes himself on leadership and scholarship. He is the oldest son of Dr. Michael S. Adams, Sr. and Sherrie Maria Johnson Adams. He has a beloved brother Matthew Adams who is a Sophomore at Hampton University studying business.
Mr. Adams is a four-time Class Officer for the hottest class on campus, QTX. Freshman year he served as Freshman class treasurer. His Sophomore year he served as Sophomore class Vice President. His Junior year he served as Junior class President and this year he has the opportunity to lead his class for the final year as Senior Class President.
Mr. Adams has also been involved in many other extra circulars in his impressive tenure at the University such as Mr. National Association for Black Journalists, senate, Chairs of the class fundraising committee, two-time Administration team representative, president of the Quintessence Executive council, executive assistant to the 72nd SGA president, student leader in The Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership program and countless other committees that have benefited and uplifted Hampton University. He is also very active participant in his college chapter the Gamma Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated where he has held multiple positions such as chapter Chaplin, corresponding secretary, and Miss Black and Gold Coordinator.
Mr. Adams is also a new member to the School of Liberal Arts student council. In addition to all of these positions, he currently serves as Mr. Pirate of Hampton University. He ran on the platform of K.I.N.G.S. which is an acronym for Knowledge Igniting National Gentleman Success. This platform was created along with one of his close friends during their Freshman year of college. This platform is the understanding and belief that true Kings are individuals who pride themselves through community service, outreach, and bettering their public speaking skills. One of the main initiatives of K.I.N.G.S. is also to bring awareness to the importance of voting rights.
Through his tireless efforts he hopes to take K.I.N.G.S. to new and exciting heights and truly make a difference not only in his community but the world. Mr. Adams' postgraduate plans are to pursue a career in law and fight for people who can not fight for themselves. Mr. Adams is a strong believer in Christ and lives by the scripture "if we live in the spirit, let us walk in the spirit" Galatians 5:25.