These African Americans Made a Difference, and the White House Noticed

Patience Lehrman; Janice Jackson; Pamela Green-Jackson
Patience Lehrman; Janice Jackson; Pamela Green-Jackson

(The Root) — The Presidential Citizens Medal is the nation's second-highest civilian honor. In other words, it's a really big deal. This year, three African Americans made the list of recipients, thanks to the serious and selfless work they do for their communities — from promoting childhood health to mentoring women and girls to helping immigrants live the American dream.


It's always great to give back, but it must be even better when the White House notices. Each of them will receive the medal during a Feb. 15 ceremony. Meet the honorees:

Pamela Green-Jackson (Albany, Ga.)

Green-Jackson is the founder and CEO of the Youth Becoming Healthy project, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity through nutrition, fitness education and physical-activity programs. YBH was created in memory of Pamela Green-Jackson's only brother, Bernard Green, who died in 2004 from obesity-related illnesses. YBH provides resources for wellness programs, both during and after school, for elementary and middle school students as well as a summer wellness camp where students learn about exercise and nutrition and can participate in martial arts, a walking club and dance programs. 

Janice Jackson (Baltimore)

Jackson is the creator and program director of Women Embracing Abilities Now, or W.E.A.N., a nonprofit mentoring organization serving women with varying degrees of disabilities. She is also a professor at the University of Baltimore. Jackson has actively advocated on behalf of people with disabilities and currently sits on the board of directors for the League for People With Disabilities, the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore and the Image Center of Maryland. She is also a member of the Community Advisory Council at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute and is a counselor at Kernan Rehabilitation Center. In addition, she founded two support groups: We Are Able People, or W.R.A.P.; and Women on Wheels & Walking, or W.O.W.W.

Patience Lehrman (Philadelphia)

Lehrman, an immigrant from Cameroon, is the national director of Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders), an immigrant-integration initiative at the Intergenerational Center of Temple University. SHINE partners with 18 institutions of higher learning, community-based organizations and county and city governments across the country. It also engages college students and older adults to provide language and health education, as well as citizenship and civic-participation lessons, to immigrant communities. Lehrman mentors inner-city high school students, provides free meals to low-income children in the summer and serves as an election official. She holds three master's degrees from Temple University.