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Inaugural Hector Black Award

The Hector and Susie Black Award for Peace and Reconciliation is given to an individual in the Upper Cumberland whose work and witness has led to activism in these areas, bringing individuals and/or groups closer to mutual understanding and friendship. The nominee should have demonstrated exceptional commitment to working towards peace and reconciliation at home and/or internationally. The ideal nominee has learned much from people of other cultures, beliefs and backgrounds, and has shown an ability to listen with compassion, thus benefiting our whole community.

Hector Black:
Hector BlackHector and Susie Black devoted much of their lives, their love and their energy to working for peace and reconciliation. They did this in large and small ways: they moved their young family to inner city Atlanta in the 1960s to help with the work of the Civil Rights movement, for over fifty years they have welcomed friends and strangers to their dinner table, they hosted international students from T.T.U., and were part of a group that helped bring a Bosnian family to Cookeville during the war in the former Yugoslavia. Hector and Susie co-founded the Quaker Meeting in Cookeville. With that group, Hector and Deanna Nipp-Kientz began a high-school contest encouraging local students to think about and create works of art and writings about peace. Susie was known as “Mama to the whole world” for her endless ability to nurture, love and teach those who came to live under the Black family roof. Hector has lived his commitment to peace and reconciliation starting with work camps in war-torn Europe after World War II, and continuing to the present day, when he speaks to high-school kids about alternatives to the military, visits prisoners on death row and speaks out for forgiveness and alternatives to violence. It is our hope that Hector and Susie’s witness for peace and their firm belief that love can drive out hate will serve as an inspiration to others.

Mandala Award

Each year the festival is dedicated to someone in the Upper Cumberland whose recognition of the world as one – a circle of humanity – has led to international activism and friendship. The nominee should have demonstrated exceptional commitment to befriending people from around the world. The ideal nominee has learned much of other cultures, cares for humanity everywhere, and actively pursues this international interest right here, benefiting our whole community. 

Linda Ragsdale:
Linda RagsdaleLinda Ragsdale, founder and president of The Peace Dragon, is an internationally recognized and award winning author, illustrator, speaker, and educator with a dedication to a world united. Her powerful and authentic form of storytelling guides her audiences through a profound journey to a destination of peace and compassion. By utilizing an innovative curriculum and creative learning activities, Linda inspires audiences to think beyond assumptions and prejudices in order to achieve an awareness, acceptance, and affirmation of diversity. She has shared her message with schools and communities throughout the United States as well as in countries such as Canada, India, China, the Philippines, Brazil, and Peru. Closer to home, Linda also works with schools and communities in the Upper Cumberland on a quest toward inner peace that has the potential for global impact. She was invited to deliver a TEDx Talk in 2012. Her children’s literature series was presented the Multicultural Children’s Publication Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education in 2017. Furthermore, Linda is a source of support and inspiration for individuals and families impacted by cancer’s devastation and destruction. Linda is a survivor of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, a traumatic event that sparked the conception of The Peace Dragon. For these reasons, and many more, we are happy to present Linda Ragsdale with the Mandala Award for 2018.

Previous Recipients

  Mandala Award   Hector Black Award
2018 Linda Ragsdale 2018 Hector Black
2017 Dr. Heidemarie Weidner    
2016 Peggy Semmes    
2015 Dr. Melissa Geist    
2014 Dr. Pete Helton    
2013 Amy Miller    
2012 Cella Neapolitan    
2011 Katie Kumar    
2010 Peggy Fragopoulos    
2009 Patrick Ryan    
2008 Dr. Sam and Diane Glasgow    
2007 Dr. JoAnne Clark & Dr. Chuck Womack    
2006 Marge Rios    
2005 Diane Paul    
2004 Hector Black    
2003 Robert and Julia Smoak    
2002 Don Estes