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Nominations Sought for 2021 John R. Larkins Award for Human Services

The State of North Carolina seeks nominations for the 2021 John R. Larkins Award, which recognizes a state employee who exemplifies the commitment of the late human services leader’s work to bring equality and justice in the workplace and his dedication to improving local communities through volunteerism and community service. As North Carolina works to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, nominations of state employees who are directly engaged in responding to the pandemic are especially encouraged.

Nominations are due by Monday, Dec. 28, through this online portal. Include a detailed description of how the nominee has improved human and race relations in the workplace, and how the nominee has contributed to local communities through volunteerism and community service.  

The honoree is selected by a panel of state employees and will be announced on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, as part of the virtual North Carolina State Employees’ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance Program. Details of the online ceremony will follow soon. 

Dr. Larkins was born Dec. 24, 1913, in Wilmington. Under the National Youth Administration Program, Dr. Larkins attended Shaw University. He later earned his M.A. at Atlanta University’s School of Social Work and his Doctorate at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. 

After early jobs paving roads and working in the garment industry in New York City, Dr. Larkins returned to North Carolina, to serve as a welfare worker in Warren County. In 1942, he became a consultant for the N.C. Department of Public Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services); in 1962, he became the Department Coordinator. Dr. Larkins went on to serve as the Associate Director of the State Probation Commission from 1963 to 1973; as the Director of Youth Development at the Department of Corrections in 1973-74; and as Special Assistant to the Governor on Minority Affairs from 1977 until his death in 1980. 

Dr. Larkins’ contributions extended beyond the workplace. He authored a collection of articles that explore race, community, leadership, and sociology. He taught part-time at St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University, and served in several sociological associations. Throughout his life and career, Dr. Larkins received numerous honors for his efforts to make our state and nation stronger through better human and race relations. His legacy in honored through annual presentation of the John R. Larkins Award.