James Earl Jones Announces the Winners of the 2003 Verizon Historically Black Colleges and Universities Student Art Competition

NEW YORK - Acclaimed actor and Verizon spokesman James Earl Jones will announce today the winners of Verizon's national search for talented artists attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The awards ceremony, hosted by Verizon as the culmination of this year's competition, will be held at 6 p.m. at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., in Harlem. On behalf of the grand-prizewinning student, Harlan Justice II, Kentucky State University will be awarded a $25,000 Verizon Foundation Art and Technology Grant, benefiting the school's fine arts department.

"We are committed to the progress of youth and support them through the creation of such signature programs as the Verizon HBCU Student Art Competition," said Vincent Reed, Verizon's group marketing manager, multicultural marketing. "This year's winners are an inspiration to all and a testament to the wealth of talent, as well as the amazing potential of students attending our nation's HBCUs."

Justice earned the competition's artist of the year title for his "Under the Black Umbrella," a 641/2" x 83" x 3" multi-media portrait symbolizing how individuals selectively share the inner workings of their souls. In recognition of the award, Justice will receive $2,000 and a 12-week paid internship in the Chicago offices of the Burrell Advertising Agency.

"We're very excited for our winning student and proud of all the participating students," said Dr. Barbara Buck, chair, division of fine arts, Kentucky State University. "We are grateful for corporations like Verizon for their unwavering support of education and youth."

Halima Taha, an authority on African-American Art and author of the best-selling book "Collecting African-American Art: Works on Paper and Canvas," will offer a tribute to the winners during the awards ceremony. "We're looking forward to Ms. Taha's tribute," said Reed.

The competition's two finalists also will be recognized at the event. Carlos Culbertson of West Virginia State College will receive a $1,000 first-place award for his entry, "Preview: The Black Actor," a 3' x 4' oil painting. The $500 second-place award will go to Alexis Peskine (the competition's 2002 grand-prizewinner) of Howard University for his acrylic-on-canvas entry, "Washington."

The 2003 Verizon HBCU Student Art Competition began on Jan. 29 at the National Black Fine Arts Show (NBFAS) in New York, in conjunction with Verizon's $50,000 sponsorship of the NBFAS. From the 153 entries received, 19 semifinalists were selected, and their artwork was exhibited this summer at the renowned Kenkeleba House Gallery in New York. Visit www.verizon.com/artcompetition for more on the competition and to view the winning entries online.

Verizon Foundation last year awarded 22,000 grants totaling more than $70 million to nonprofit agencies that focus on improving basic and computer literacy, enriching communities through technology, and creating a skilled work force. The foundation uses its resources in the United States and abroad to develop partnerships in technology and connect them with organizations serving the needs of diverse communities, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence and the economically and socially disadvantaged. The foundation also supports Verizon Volunteers, an incentive program that last year encouraged Verizon employees to volunteer more than 500,000 hours in their communities and provided $27.8 million in matching gifts to nonprofit organizations. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues and 221,000 employees. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 137.6 million access line equivalents and 34.6 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with 14.6 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.