Trailblazer Honorees

Memphis Heritage Trailblazer Award

Memphis Heritage Trailblazer Award is conferred upon an individual or organization that has demonstrated innovative contributions to underserved populations through intellectual courage, written and verbal communications, business, or creativity in the arts. Additionally, the Trailblazer Award recognizes and thanks individuals and organizations that have demonstrated passion and commitment to service and the preservation of Memphis history, culture, and rich heritage for future generations of residents and travelers to experience and appreciate.

To be nominated for a Trailblazer Award you must reside in or serve the city of Memphis.  Visit the Memphis Heritage Trail YouTube page to view videos about our Trailblazer recipients. This is a list of honorees to date.

2020 Trailblazer Honorees

Click the names below to see their honoree video.

  • Chrysti Chandler
    Chrysti Chandler is the founder of the Young Actors Guild (YAG). Over the past 29 years, she has trained and developed over 30,000 youth in the performing arts.
  • Bev Johnson
    Bev Johnson is the host of “The Bev Johnson Show,” on the legendary WDIA Radio, where she has been employed for 37 years. “The Bev Johnson Show” is in its 33rd year.
  • Deidre Malone
    Deidre Malone is the President/CEO of The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG), a public relations, marketing, advertising, and government relations firm in Memphis, Tennessee. She also serves as Vice President of the Best Media Properties, Inc. Board of Directors, the ownership group for the New Tri-State Defender and is a partner in MUTV-1.
  • Carey Moore
    Carey Moore is the founder of My Cup of Tea at the House in Orange Mound, an organization that helps women learn valuable business and life skills while collectively creating a brand that symbolizes unity and hope.
  • National Civil Rights Museum
    The National Civil Rights Museum, located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, chronicles the American Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to the present, and the world in transition because of it.
  • Deanie Parker
    Deanie Parker is Soulsville’s first President and CEO. She led the nonprofit organization founded to build and manage the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School in an area dubbed Soulsville USA. Parker then established the Soulsville Foundation and served as its president to fund the Museum and Academy operations.
  • Linda Steele
    Linda Steele is the Founder and CEO of ArtUp, an idea incubator and business accelerator that breaks down barriers to the creative economy; nurtures ideas that drive social change; and launches artists into creative entrepreneurship.
  • Patrice Bates Thompson
    As a business partner of The Four Way Restaurant, Patrice Bates Thompson runs the daily operations of Four Way. Under her management, the restaurant has partnered with many local businesses, churches, schools, and organizations.
  • Miriam DeCosta-Willis, PHD
    Miriam Decosta Willis, PHD is an activist, author, and advocate. She has a 40-year career in education and has published thirteen books. She is also the co-founder of the Memphis Black Writers’ Workshop.

Inaugural Year Trailblazer Honorees (2016)

  • Yvonne & David Acey
  • Happy Jones
  • Mark Stansbury
  • Ekundayo Bandele
  • Robert Lipscomb
  • Judge Russell Sugarmon
  • Joyce Blackmon
  • Marion Mitchell
  • Calvin Taylor
  • Ruby Bright
  • Dr. James Netters
  • Henry Turley
  • Mike Cody, J.D.
  • Charlie Newman
  • Elaine Lee Turner
  • Erma Clanton
  • O C Pleasant
  • Rosalind Withers
  • Fred Davis
  • James D’eke Pope
  • Jocelyn Wurzburg, J.D.
  • Bishop William Graves
  • Beverly Robertson
  • Jan Young/Assisi Foundation
  • Rev. LaSimba Gray
  • Diane Rudner
  • Dr. Coby Smith

2016 Trailblazer Awards (Inaugural year)

2020 Trailblazer Awards