Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative announces 2022 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards

June 1, 2022

Progress means change, and the Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative is recognizing Black community members who are leading that change with its 2022 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards.

This award was initiated in 2021 to recognize and invest in individuals who are on the frontlines leading the vital work of addressing racial equity, disparities in the Black community, and social justice across Lexington. Award winners received an unrestricted stipend of $5,000 in recognition of their efforts at the grassroots level to affect change in our community.

“The Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative is honored to recognize these grassroots leaders who are addressing racial equity, disparities in the Black community and social justice across Lexington,” said Lisa Higgins-Hord, LPBI advisory board co-chair.

The 2022 Grassroots Black Leadership Awards honorees are:

Gerald “Geo” Gibson, Operation Making a Change

Gerald “Geo” Gibson is founder of Operation Making a Change (OMAC), a Lexington nonprofit that works to provide equal opportunity for youth and young adults of color who have experienced inequities in the judicial system. Gibson’s program teaches self-worth, encouragement and motivation and is based on the premise that everyone deserves a chance to prove they can be productive citizens regardless of their past.

Martina and Marcellus Barksdale, SoulFeast Week

Twin siblings Martina and Marcellus Barksdale are the founders of SoulFeast Week, which highlights and supports Black culinary and agriculture in Central Kentucky. SoulFeast grew out of the Barksdales’ #19DaysOfBlackBiz challenge in June 2020 as a communal effort to stimulate Black-owned businesses. Martina is currently a producer and TV host for WKYT’s Everyday Kentucky, and Marcellus operates Sports Center, a youth volleyball and basketball facility.  

Jaria Gordon and David Laurenvil, Kids MakeIt

Jaria Gordon and David Laurenvil are the founders of Kids MakeIt, a unique 21st Century educational institution solely focused on exposing youth to science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) skills and careers. In 2021, hundreds of Kids MakeIt students in North Lexington and beyond learned about coding, microcomputers, aeronautics, science, art, urban agriculture and engineering. Graduates of Kids MakeIt have gone on to excel in academic, community and business endeavors.

Learn more about the Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative and the Grassroots Black Leadership Award honorees at