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Nell Braxton Gibson was awarded the Bishop Cross in the 2016 Diocesan Convention.
Born in the southern United States, Nell Braxton Gibson is the elder of two daughters of professional educators. She and her sister grew up as faculty brats on Black College campuses in Texas, Florida and Mississippi. She and her husband, Bert, are the parents of a daughter, Erika, the first African-American Board-Certified veterinary neurosurgeon. Dr. Gibson was the first woman to serve on the Board of Trustees at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University and, in 1985, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree for her work in bringing more women and people of color onto the Board. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and is listed in Who’s Who Among African Americans.
1991: National Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) President’s Award for alleviating oppression throughout the African Diaspora. 2007: Trinity Transformational Fellowship for her social justice work. – spent a month in South Africa and Namibia gathering information on both countries bloodless transition of both countries from apartheid to independence. 2009: Feb.-Absalom Jones Award for leadership within the Episcopal Church from the New York Chapter of the UBE & May -Living the Dream Mentor Award from the Manhattan Country School 2012: Medallion for Exemplary Service from the president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies 2014: Dr. Verna Josephine Dozier Honor Award from National UBE. 2016: May- Distinguished Alumna by Empire State College, Nov- the Bishop’s Cross from the Episcopal Diocese of New York for her social justice work & highlighted in a 2016: New York Daily News article on Unsung Heroes of Civil Rights 2017: among civil rights activists televised on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
In Florida Mrs. Gibson and her sister, Rosemary became close friends of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, their mentor and teacher. In Mississippi, in the 1950s their parents, lifetime members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), worked with Civil Rights Leader, Medgar Evers, on increasing membership in the Mississippi NAACP. In the early 1960s, Mrs. Gibson, who lost a friend to murder and lived less than sixty miles from Money, Mississippi where fourteen-year-old, Emmett Till was lynched, became inspired by the stand of Rosa Parks and that of Autherine Lucy in the neighboring state of Alabama. Their bravery began to pull her into a commitment to the struggle for Civil Rights, undergirded by annual trips to New York where she and her sister attended an integrated camp in the Catskill Mountains and saw the possibilities integration offered.
Author of TOO PROUD TO BEND: Journey of a Civil Rights Foot Soldier