Velma Wilson, a community volunteer from Antioch and a Census 2020 field supervisor who was cited for her outreach efforts to hard-to-count people from some of Contra Costa County’s toughest areas, has been honored as Contra Costa County’s 2021 Humanitarian of the Year.
And Kimyatta Newby, a member of the San Pablo Youth Commission and a freshman attending classes virtually at Howard University in Washington, D.C., was named the county’s 2021 Student Humanitarian of the Year.
Both women were honored as part of a video presentation for the county’s 43rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, first shown during the Jan. 19 Contra Costa Board of Supervisors meeting.
Wilson has coordinated the annual Antioch MLK Day Celebration, the Antioch Veterans and Memorial Day observances, and other local events. She also has served as the parent and student engagement liaison for the Antioch Unified School District, vice president of legislation and education for the 32nd District PTA, as first vice president of East Contra Costa County NAACP, and community member for the African American Male Achievement Initiative, which has a mission to work for the success of male African American students in the Oakland Unified School District.
She said a work-related injury in 2011 that left her disabled changed her life.
“I channeled that energy to serving my community the best way I know how — with my time,” Wilson said as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. She said she spent part of that energy fighting discrimination she encountered as she fought for pay and medical treatment related to her work injury.
In 2020, Newby led a group of peers at her high school in asking administrators to address violence, injustice and inequity for students of color there. She began involvement with peaceful protests in the Bay Area, and co-organized the George Floyd Solidarity Protest, which attracted more than 1,000 participants in Pinole in June.
“I have the passion and the drive and the heart to challenge the system with things that I care about and love,” Newby said during the MLK celebration.
Tamisha Torres-Walker was the Contra Costa County Humanitarian of the Year in 2020. Christina Mazzi was the 2020 Student Humanitarian of the Year.
A recording of the county’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration can be viewed online.