07.14.1998|Corporate

NAACP Honors Bell Atlantic Chairman for Four Decades of Commitment to Civil Rights

NAACP Honors Bell Atlantic Chairman for Four Decades of Commitment to Civil Rights

July 14, 1998

Media contact:Susan Kraus, 212-395-0500

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Atlanta -- Bell Atlantic Chairman Raymond W. Smith(L) and Kweisi Mfume,(R) president and chief exective officer of the NAACP embrace following Mr. Smith's special recognition at the NAACP's annual meeting for his career-long personal commitment to pro moting equal rights in the workplace. "Throughout his career, Ray Smith has been one of the few corporate leaders who has consistently and actively promoted civil rights and social change," said Kweisi Mfume.(Photo-Michael Pugh)

ATLANTA -- Bell Atlantic Chairman Raymond W. Smith today received special recognition at the NAACP's annual meeting for his career-long personal commitment to promoting equal rights in the workplace.

"Throughout his career, Ray Smith has been one of the few corporate leaders who has consistently and actively promoted civil rights and social change," said Kweisi Mfume, president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. "Today, we applaud Ray for his long-time friendship and support."

Addressing the convention, Smith said he was honored to be recognized for his efforts to break the color barrier during his telephone company career. "The great strides we've made in hiring, and mentoring, and advancing minorities in the executive ranks are in part the result of our affiliation with this organization," Smith said.

"We still have a long way to go...and we must never allow ourselves to become complacent," he added.

Yesterday, Fortune named Bell Atlantic to the magazine's list of "The 50 Best Companies for Asians, Blacks & Hispanics."

Smith recently stepped down as Bell Atlantic's CEO and will retire from Bell Atlantic later this year. He has been an advocate for civil rights and equal opportunity throughout his nearly 40-year career in the telecommunications industry. He joined the NAACP in the early 1960s and became a lifetime member in 1987. Smith was the first recipient of the Mickey Leland Award for Diversity in Telecommunications, presented by the National Association of Black Telecommunications Professionals.

Following his remarks, Smith, Mfume and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond visited Bell Atlantic's exhibit at the convention. Artist Charles Lilly presented them with signed prints, commissioned by Bell Atlantic, of Granville T. Woods, an African American who patented telephone transmitters and other devices for the transportation and communications industries.

Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -- is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 41 million telephone access lines and 6.7 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high- growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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