NAACP Arlington Branch Awards

Honoring good work in our community

Willard W. "Woody" Brittain Community Appreciation Award

(individual or group/organization)

The Willard W. Brittain Community Appreciation Award was renamed in 2013 to honor Mr. Willard Woodson “Woody” Brittain for his many contributions to the corporate world and the Arlington community. Born on Nov. 26, 1947 in Washington, D.C., Woody Brittain was the son of Mary D. and Willard W. Brittain Sr. Woody spent his Arlington childhood excelling in school, playing sports, attending Mount Olive Church and working on cars and other hobbies. After graduating from Wakefield High School, he went on to earn a B.A. in economics at Yale University in 1970, where he was one of 28 Black students in a class of 1,000. Woody became a campus leader, helping to establish the Black Student Alliance and Afro-American Cultural Center. In 1972, he received his MBA at Harvard’s School of Business. Woody generously supported charities that enhance educational opportunity and civil rights. A lifelong volunteer, he mentored dozens of young people while serving on the boards of the National Urban League, the Northern Virginia Urban League and the YMCA of New York City, among others. At Yale, Woody established the ORD Leadership Program and the Brittain-Palmer Fund of the Afro-American Cultural Center. Yale University bestowed its highest alumni honor, The Yale Medal, on Woody in November of 2011. This award is given to an individual who lives or works in Arlington, or a group/organization that has established/maintained a business within Arlington County and, through their actions and service, has contributed many hours of their time towards the betterment of Arlington County and its residents.

Charles P. Monroe Civil Rights Award

(individual or group/organization)

The Charles P. Monroe Civil Rights Award honors the former County Board Chairman, Charles P. Monroe. He was a community activist engaged in increasing public participation in County government and politics. He was also an advocate for affordable housing and other issues affecting the financially disadvantaged. Mr. Monroe had good reason for his deep pride in his family. His mother was the first African American member of the county School Board, and his father was the county's first African American judge. His own dedication to public service began early, as an advocate for the working poor and a member of human rights and housing organizations. This award is granted to an individual or group/organization that has advocated for the civil rights of those living in Arlington County.

Henry L. Holmes Meritorious Service Award

(individual or group/organization)

The Henry L. Holmes Meritorious Service Award was renamed in 2012 to honor Henry L. Holmes, the first African American elected official in Arlington. Holmes exemplified the standard of civic service for all county residents during his lifetime and down through the years. He served as Commissioner of Revenue from 1876 to 1903, was a developer of neighborhoods in Central Arlington and held membership in numerous fraternal and religious organizations. Mr. Holmes served as the Commissioner of Revenue for Arlington County from 1876 to 1903, 27 years without interruption. He was also a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and, later, became one of the founders of St. John Baptist Church. Together with W.H. Butler, he developed the Butler - Holmes subdivision in the area now known as Central Arlington. He died on April 13, 1905 at the age of 55. In recognition of Brother Holmes' outstanding work and tradition of community service, a building that was originally located at 2100 N. 14th Street was named in his honor. In addition, he was the first Worshipful Master (Leader) of Arlington Lodge #58 in historic Green Valley. The Henry Louis Holmes Library was established in 1940 as a community-led facility to fill in the gap created by segregationist County and state policies. In order to bring books and material resources to the County’s Black residents who had been denied such services, a group of Black Arlingtonians worked together in order to establish an independent branch. The Holmes Library would later join the still-segregated County library system as the only branch available to Black Arlingtonians until its closure in 1949, and the subsequent desegregation of Arlington's libraries in 1950.This is awarded to an individual or group/organization that has supported the Branch, the Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, and the Arlington community for more than two years.

Esther Georgia Irving Cooper Civil Rights Activist of the Year Award

(individual or group/organization)

This award is given to an individual or group/organization that is actively involved in advocating for various civil rights causes. Dissatisfied with the inferior facilities and textbooks offered in the black schools in Arlington County, Esther Georgia Irving Cooper (November 28, 1881-February 7, 1970) worked to improve educational opportunities for African American children. In 1940 she organized and became the first president of the Arlington County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Two years later she joined the NAACP’s Virginia State Conference executive board. In collaboration with the state NAACP, the Arlington branch challenged inequalities in the county’s high school facilities. Their efforts culminated in Carter v. School Board of Arlington County (1950), in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the county’s separate high schools constituted unlawful racial discrimination. As NAACP branch president Cooper supported initiatives to abolish the poll tax and wrote letters to Arlington officials protesting segregation on public transportation and in public facilities. Mrs. Cooper served as president of the Arlington chapter of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and chaired the Eighth District Committee for Virginia. In 1947 Cooper ran for a seat on Arlington County’s Democratic Executive Committee, but she was one of six progressive candidates disqualified from appearing on the primary ballot for allegedly failing to comply with party regulations. A charter member of Arlington County’s chapter of the Virginia Council of Church Women, Cooper was for many years a vice president of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Society. She helped organize the Jennie Dean Community Center Association, which in 1947 donated land for the Veterans Memorial Branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association. She retired as president of the Arlington County NAACP branch in 1951 but remained active as its president emerita. The nominee is one who aids in the development of legislation or implementation of civil rights policies to “secure the political, educational, social, or economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons” within the Arlington County community.