The special emphasis program manager for the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing received the 2021 Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the state adjutant general announced March 26.
“Tech. Sgt. Kirby Addison’s work is remarkable,” Maj. Gen. Greg Knight said. “I am proud to work with such an outstanding member of our 158th Fighter Wing.”
Addison stepped up to help the wing navigate its blind spot in the wake of racial tensions after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, according to his award nomination. He led brainstorming sessions with Black, Indigenous, and people of color throughout the wing to discuss improving representation within the wing, and led town halls to discuss topics related to racial justice in a safe space.
In addition, Addison connected with local organizations such as the Justice-for-All Alliance, the Vermont chapter of the NAACP, the New Moon Café, and Crosspoint Church Vermont to share best practices and further advance the understanding and appreciation of minorities in Vermont, according to the nomination. He continues to act as a diversity adviser for the Crosspoint Church board of directors and has partnered with Clemmons Family Farm, which is dedicated to empowering Black artists and heritage through education, events and engagement with the local community.
“Kirby’s efforts in the past year have furthered education and inclusion to not only the Air National Guard but the Army National Guard and Joint Force Headquarters in Vermont as well,” Knight said. “His commitment to inclusion, non-judgmental dialogue and open-minded perspective sharing has left a positive impact on the local community and with each Service member he has engaged with through his events on base.”
The NAACP created the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award in 1980 to recognize Service members who promote civil rights and who represent the qualities and core values of their branch of service. Wilkins led the NAACP for more than 20 years and founded the Armed Services and Veteran Affairs Department in 1969. This marks the second straight year that an Air National Guard Airman has received the award: Senior Master Sgt. Venita Smith, with the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Attack Wing, received the award in 2020.