Keep Cool.

These days, the buzz is about “keeping calm,” but this December, we want you to “Keep Cool!” Join us for our annual Jazzy Holiday Gala as we celebrate the “coolness” that African-American culture brings to our society. At Jazzy, for more than 30 years, the Gantt Center has applauded individuals and corporate partners who have made contributions to the arts and cultural community in Charlotte and beyond via the Spirit of the Center Award. This year we will present the Spirit of the Center award to award-winning architect Philip Freelon, master woodturner Charles Farrar and legal masterminds Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A.

2017 Spirit of the Center Award Recipients


Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A.
Esteemed Charlotte-based law firm which has earned an international reputation for affirming civil rights for almost 50 years

Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A.

Geraldine Sumter and James E. Ferguson, II
Geraldine Sumter and James E. Ferguson, II

In 1968, Julius L. Chambers invited his associates, James E. Ferguson, II, Adam Stein, and James E. Lanning, to join him to form a law firm. That firm, Chambers Stein Ferguson and Lanning, now Ferguson Chambers and Sumter, P.A., has from that date through the present held its primary mission -- the provision of legal services with an eye toward obtaining equal opportunity and justice for all people.

Julius L. Chambers
Julius L. Chambers

The firm's work has concentrated in civil rights—voting rights, school desegregation, employment discrimination, economic development, education and teacher rights, students' rights, police misconduct and other constitutional violations by government officials. Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A. has amassed a state, national and international reputation for its work in civil rights as well as medical negligence and personal injury. Its lawyers traditionally have been active in local, state, national and internationally organizations which pursue similar goals.

More About Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A.

ARTICLE: Civil Rights Champion James Ferguson Earns Luminary Award

The Arts

Charles Farrar
A world-class artisan who through woodturning produces finely crafted bowls and vases, prized by museums and art collectors

Charles Farrar

Charles Farrar
Charles Farrar

Charles Farrar is an acclaimed studio artist who has exhibited and demonstrated his turned wood art around the country. Farrar grew up in southern Virginia and earned a degree in Business from Virginia State University. He holds certification in religious and philosophical studies as well as a graduate degree from Lambeth Palace in London.

Farrar, who regularly teaches at Arrowmont School of Arts and Craftsin Tennessee and the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, retired from corporate life in 1995 to pursue his long-time passion of creating turned wood art. His work is held in the private collections of former Essence magazine editor Susan Taylor, actress Debbie Allen, retired General Wesley Clark, and the John & Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art. It is also featured in corporate and museum collections such as Bank of America; the David Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles; Danville Museum of Fine Art; Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture; The White House Collection; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and is held on permanent loan at the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar by the U.S. State Department.

In 2016, Farrar curated the exquisite Shaping the Vessel exhibition of twenty-four works presented by the Harvey B. Gantt Center. The exhibition successfully toured at the Charles Wright Museum in Detroit, Michigan in 2017.

More About Charles Farrar

VIDEO: Charles Farrar at the Charlotte's Fine Arts Exhibition


Philip Freelon
Renowned architect of the Gantt Center and numerous cultural institutions, most recently the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Philip Freelon

Philip Freelon
Philip Freelon

Known for imaginative design and thoughtful collaboration, Phil Freelon practices architecture that engages the community and enhances opportunities for interaction and learning. His design achievements include cultural, civic, and academic buildings produced for some of United States' most respected institutions.

As Managing and Design Director of the North Carolina practice of Perkins+Will, he leads the company’s Durham and Charlotte offices, and serves on the firm’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Prior to joining Perkins+Will, he was founder and CEO of The Freelon Group.

Freelon’s recent and current achievements include serving as lead architect and directing the Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group team for the highly-acclaimed National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. He is also the design architect for award-winning museum and cultural projects including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Harvey B. Gantt Center in Charlotte, Emancipation Park in Houston, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore. His library, education, and civic design projects include facilities in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Durham, North Carolina.

Freelon, a native of Philadelphia, earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in Architecture from North Carolina State University and a Master of Architecture degree from MIT, and completed a Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He served as an adjunct faculty member at North Carolina State University's College of Design and lectured at major universities across the country. He is a longtime member of the faculty at MIT’s School of Architecture+Planning.

Freelon’s work is regularly published in national design journals including Architect, Metropolis, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, and Contract magazine. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including: Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, recipient of the AIA North Carolina's Gold Medal, President Obama appointee to the United States Commission of Fine Arts and recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.

More About Philip Freelon

VIDEO: Phil Freelon: Community Builder

VIDEO: Turning Ideas Into Reality: Phil Freelon at TEDxRaleigh 2012

ARTICLE: Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture is Philip Freelon's commission of a lifetime

ARTICLE: AD Speaks With the Most Accomplished African-American Architect Living Today

Highlights From 2016 Jazzy Holiday Gala

Purchase your tickets today and make plans to be a part of this annual tradition benefiting the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. The Jazzy Holiday Gala, sponsored by Bank of America, takes place on Saturday, December 2, 2017, beginning at 6:00 pm at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom. Highlights of the black-tie evening include a cocktail reception, awards program, dinner and entertainment by New Orleans-based Trumpet Mafia. Expected attendance is over 800 guests.


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Presented by Bank of America

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