Our featured leading lady today (Sunday) learned the power of her voice early on and has consistently used it to advocate for countless causes in Richmond County. The 2019 Trailblazer Award recipient of the Richmond County Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Foundation, Gloria Mask, is well known for her dedication to the benchmarks of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolence philosophy — principles of fairness and equality.
Riding the bus to Moral Monday marches in Raleigh, attending Hamlet City Council and Richmond County Board of Education meetings, protesting a poisonous landfill in Richmond County, calling and writing former Sen. Jesse Helms to remove the carcass of the Imperial Foods chicken plant in Hamlet in 1992, or leading NAACP executive committee meetings in the county, Mask never wavered from her passion of civil rights activism.
Born in New Orleans, Mask came to North Carolina to attend Bennett College, per the encouragement of her music teacher. She was offered a teaching position by J.W. Mask Jr., who was the principal of Capital Highway School and would soon become her brother-in-law. The beautiful love story of Allen and Gloria Mask began shortly after, while he was a teacher at Monroe Avenue High School and she was completing her practice teaching. The couple married in 1952 and she quickly joined Allen, his brother and father, J.W. Mask, as vocal civil rights activists.
As a result of their efforts and leadership, the Richmond County Branch of the NAACP, on several occasions, had the largest membership of all the counties in the state.
In 2000, Mask received the Richmond County NAACP President’s Award from Dr. Fred McQueen “for her continued support to this branch as co-chairperson of the Membership Committee.” She was recognized for a speech she gave at the N.C. General Assembly in 2001 to protest a hazardous waste dump in Richmond County, which was subsequently canceled.
She was also honored by the 8th District Black Leadership Caucus for 20-plus years of service. The Alpha Lambda Chapter of the Alpha Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. presented her the Outstanding Service Award in 2011 “in recognition of 50 years of dedication to the Debutante Cotillion and the sorority.” The sorority’s main focus is college scholarships for local high school graduates.
If success is measured by the accomplishments of your offspring, you can add parenting to the long list of champion achievements of the Masks, with all of their three children having very successful careers in healthcare. Allen’s namesake, Dr. Allen Mask, is the founder and medical director of Raleigh Urgent Care Center and WRAL Health Team doctor; Dr. William Kenneth Mask is a radiologist; and Jeanne Mask/Horton is a hospital administrator.
Join us today in celebrating the enormous impact of Gloria Mask’s unrelenting commitment to advocating for civil rights, service to Richmond County, and being the ultimate mover and shaker!
Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority. Republished from visitrichmondcounty.com. Throughout March, Visit Richmond County will feature a local leading lady in honor of Women’s History Month.