6abc 2021 Black History Month honorees: Dr. Ala Stanford, Richard Gordon IV, William H. Gary III

Saturday, February 13, 2021

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 6abc honors Black History Month 2021 by celebrating the local visionaries & leaders, both past and present.

In 2021, we celebrate a doctor on the frontlines of the COVID fight, a principal earning national acclaim, a historic museum and a trailblazing politician.

See more stories and profiles of past and present influential African Americans at 6abc.com/blackhistory.

Dr. Ala Stanford, MS, FACS, FAAP

  • Seeing that the testing shortage disproportionately affected the city's Black population, started the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium with the aim of increasing access to testing among African Americans in the City of Philadelphia, which has conducted more than 22,000 barrier-free, no-cost tests. The Consortium will be administering the vaccine to Philly's Black communities.

  • Board certified by the American Board of Surgery in both pediatric and adult general surgery.

  • Medical correspondent for local and national news outlets

  • Serves on the CDC Philadelphia Department of Public Health COVID19 Vaccine Advisory Committee

  • Worked and trained at University of University of Pittsburgh, SUNY @ Brooklyn, The Pennsylvania State University, Milton S. Hershey College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

  • Owns and directs R.E.A.L. Concierge Medicine, Co. since 2013. R.E.A.L. is a personalized health care company providing unique and complex health services and advocacy to individuals and corporations throughout the USA and internationally. Founder of the 501c3 non-profit organization It Takes Philly, Inc. that focuses on professional and personal development of youth in urban and suburban areas with limited resources.
  • Mentor for students and people of all ages and is a frequent invited speaker.

  • Leads medical mission trips to Haiti and heads the medical triage ministry at her local church.

  • Wife and mother of three sons, a 12-year old and 10-year old twins.
  • First African American woman to complete her adult General Surgery training at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • One of two African-American women pediatric surgeons in North America to complete a Pediatric Surgery fellowship.

Richard Gordon IV, National Principal of the Year

  • Principal, Paul Robeson High School of Human Services, School District of Philadelphia
  • 2017 Neubauer Fellow
  • Richard has been an educator since 1996. Prior to becoming a principal, Richard served as teacher, special education teacher, truancy liaison, and assistant principal.

  • Has served, since 2013, as Principal of a school that was slated for permanent closure. The school was recognized as the 2017 Most Improved School in the city of Philadelphia.

  • Credited with developing a model program for college and career readiness. Paul Robeson High School is ranked in the top third of Philadelphia and PA Schools (2020, 2019, 2017 US News & World Report Rankings).

  • In 2017 Education Dive Magazine recognized Principal Gordon with the National School Administrator of the Year Award.

  • In 2018 and 2019, received the "MADE MAN" Foundation's Distinguished Leader & Advocate for Change Award.

  • In 2019, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education recognized Principal Gordon for Paul Robeson High School becoming a "High Progress" school, removing it from the Commonwealth's list of academically "high needs"/lowest performing schools. Numerous state and national acknowledgements, including, the National Alliance for Black School Educators' 2019 National Principal of the Year Award, Black Enterprise Magazine's 2019 Modern Man of Distinction Award, and the University of Pennsylvania's 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Change Community Education Award.

  • Received three citations from the City Council of Philadelphia, and a citation from the Pennsylvania State Senate for Outstanding Student Achievement.

  • Recognized in 2020, as the Pennsylvania State Principal of the Year, and he was given the Distinguished Service to Education Award.

  • Named the 2020-2021 National Association of Secondary School Principals' (NASSP) National Principal of the Year.

  • Board member of the University of Pennsylvania's Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships (Community Advisory Board).

  • Grew up in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia.

  • Graduate of Pennsauken High School

  • Product of an incarcerated father and single mom who raised 3 boys while a hairdresser in Camden, NJ.

  • Studied at Lincoln University and Lehigh University. Currently a doctoral candidate at Northcentral University.

Underground Railroad Museum at the Belmont Mansion Fairmount Park

  • Dedicated to colonial history and the 19th century network of people and places known as the "underground railroad."
  • The American Women's Heritage Society, an African American women's organization, founded by Mrs. Audrey Johnson-Thornton, was dedicated to restoring and maintaining the dilapidated and abandoned Belmont Mansion. Determined to preserve the building, she raised money, arranged a $1 annual lease from the City of Philadelphia and mustered Temple University students to research the history of the mansion.
  • Built in the early eighteenth century, the Mansion is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the United States. The Belmont Mansion property became part of Fairmount Park in 1869

  • The property around Belmont Mansion was initially a group of farms and became part of Fairmount Park in 1869 as part of a program to preserve the quality of water.

  • The Belmont Estate was transformed by commercial development such as railroads, stone quarries, oil refining and a country resort for private parties. In anticipation of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, a large dining pavilion was built alongside Belmont Mansion. The site continued to be used for public entertaining until it became an historic house museum under the management of the American Women's Heritage Society in 1986.

  • After extensive renovations, Belmont Mansion reopened in the summer of 2007 as The Underground Railroad Museum at Belmont Mansion.

Congressman William H. Gary III, Pastor, activist

  • Third-generation Pastor
  • Community Activist
  • First black Member of Congress to chair the powerful and partisan Budget Committee and the first black Representative to become the third-ranking Democrat in the House.

  • Advocated against apartheid, playing a key role in helping to dismantle the racist system in South Africa. Authored an anti-apartheid bill to impose sanctions on South Africa that resulted in Nelson Mandela's freedom in 1990.
  • Being among the most significant and influential politicians in Philadelphia history, an agreement was reached with Amtrak in 2014 to rename 30th Street Station to William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. It was signed into law in August 2014 by President Barack Obama.
  • Moved to North Philadelphia in 1949 when his father assumed his father's pastorate at Bright Hope Baptist Church
  • Graduated from Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia in 1959 and earned a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1963. Gray majored in sociology received a master's degree in divinity from Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey, in 1966 and a master's degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1970
  • Became a community activist in 1970.
  • Gray founded the nonprofit Union Housing Corporation in Montclair to build affordable homes for low- and moderate-income tenants.
  • In 1971, married Andrea Dash, a marketing consultant. They raised three sons: William IV, Justin, and Andrew.
  • After his father died in 1972, Gray assumed the pastor's position at Philadelphia's Bright Hope Baptist Church.
  • In 1975, he cofounded the Philadelphia Mortgage Plan, an organization that helped people in low income communities to obtain mortgages
  • At the peak of his political power, Gray abruptly announced his resignation from Congress on June 20, 1991, effective the following September 11.
  • Served as President and CEO of the College Fund/UNCF from 1991 until March 2004 and was credited with raising more than $1.58 billion for the organization.
  • Served as a special adviser to Haiti, under President William J. (Bill) Clinton
  • Won a Medal of Honor from Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.