CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Several community leaders were honored with awards on Wednesday morning at MeckMin’s annual Community Leader Awards breakfast, including an activist turned city council member and a police officer who both took active roles in September 2016’s Charlotte Uprising.
Charlotte Councilmember Braxton Winston and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Major Mike Campagna were each presented the Bridge Builder Award for their community work addressing issues of racial division and police accountability in the city. More than 100 people attended the breakfast event, hosted at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Winston, the second-highest vote-getter in his 2017 at-large race for council, first made headlines as a citizen journalist during the September 2016 Charlotte Uprising. Protests across the city, but mostly centered in Uptown, sprang up following the September 20, 2016, police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
It was during the intense protests that Winston met Campagna, and conversations — many times tense and confrontational — on the street turned into continued dialogue around police brutality, transparency and accountability.
Campagna went on to form CMPD’s Constructive Conversations Team, a police department unit of several officers and community members who have received training on how to use active listening to discern community concerns and build connections.
“Major Campagna and I, we don’t always agree on everything. We don’t,” Winston stressed with humor, laughs emanating from the audience. “But we talk. We challenge each other.”
Campagna said it was his goal to bridge divides in the community and his aim to recruit more professional, more “selfless” and “noble” citizens to service in the police force.
“If we want to improve policing, we need to look toward positive reinforcement,” Campagna told the audience.
MeckMin also gave leadership awards to the Rev. Dr. Perry Cannon, pastor at C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Sarah Stevenson, founder of the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum.
Founded in 1987 as Mecklenburg Ministries, MeckMin is a gathering of more than 100 faith congregations working together to in interfaith collaboration to foster understanding, compassion and justice. The organization sponsors several events and activities throughout the year, including anti-racism trainings and race relations dialogues.