By Joseph D. Bryant
Housing Authority of the Birmingham District
Longtime Birmingham entrepreneur and businessman Dr. Jesse J. Lewis is known for delivering a fast quip fit for any occasion, but in a rare moment he had few words as an audience stood to applaud and recognize his decades of corporate philanthropy.
Lewis, the founder and publisher emeritus of The Birmingham Times, was recently honored with the inaugural “Dr. Jesse J. Lewis Trailblazer Award,” from the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District for his longstanding volunteerism with the agency’s annual benefit golf tournament. Lewis is also founder of Agency 54, the Lewis Group, the country’s first black-owned PR and advertising agency.
Lewis smiled as he accepted the award, saying his participation in the tournament was always about helping the children serviced by HABD and giving back to his community.
“I greatly appreciate this award from the housing authority. The years I spent working to raise awareness and funds for this tournament weren’t about Jesse Lewis. They weren’t about the Lewis Group, and they weren’t about the Birmingham Housing Authority. This was all done to help the children of public housing who would receive scholarships, and the families who are helped through the Self-Sufficiency Program,” he said. “Let’s all work collectively to continue to grow this tournament and touch even more people in our communities.”
The award was presented by HABD President/CEO Michael O. Lundy.
The trophy featuring a bronze figure of man in vintage knickerbockers, topped with a traditional golf hat resembles Lewis, an avid golf enthusiast known to embrace the historic dress of the game.
For the past 20 years, as long as the event has been held, Lewis has been a major supporter of the annual George A. Pegues Memorial Golf Tournament. The event is the housing authority’s largest fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting the agency’s scholarship foundation and the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
The award reads:
“The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District presents the inaugural Jesse J. Lewis Sr. Award to its namesake, Jesse J. Lewis, in appreciation for decades of community service, including a longstanding dedication to the George A. Pegues Memorial Family Self-Sufficiency Golf Tournament. Countless lives have been positively impacted by his selfless generosity.”