Hortense Hinton-Jackson’s education career has taken her around the world, but she’s always been drawn back to Culpeper.
Alan Rasmussen has always wanted to make a difference, and he chose Culpeper as the place to do so.
The two were honored Friday morning at Culpeper’s 4th of July Celebration 2017 kickoff breakfast as the 2017 Parade Grand Marshall and 2017 Spirit Award Recipient respectively.
Hinton-Jackson began her education career in 1971 and eventually obtained her doctorate from the University of Virginia. She has worked at Harvard and has served in leadership positions at numerous colleges throughout the nation.
A native of Culpeper, she is the chairman of the board for the George Washington Carver Alumni Association, a member of the NAACP and leader for Free Union Baptist Church. She is also a noted historian focusing on Culpeper’s African-American history.
The grandmother of eight was honored when she found out she would be the grand marshall of the parade.
“Culpeper was my place of strength and my foundation,” Hinton-Jackson said. “It continues to be so. I continue to draw strength from that and I still think this is one of the best places to grow up and live.”
Growing up in Culpeper, Hinton-Jackson remembered watching an African-American man drive the carriage during parades and noted how important that seemed. Now, she will be in a similar carriage, only as the guest of honor.
“It was very significant to African-Americans probably 50 or 60 years ago that there was even an African-American man even in the parade,” Hinton-Jackson said. “So today, to be an African-American to apparently ride in the carriage, that’s very significant to me. That Culpeper has come that far, that now they can recognize African-Americans as being in leadership and service roles.”
Though her education career beckoned and she has traveled all over the world, Culpeper has always been home. What has continued to draw her back to the area?
“I think it is a very small, close-knit community,” Hinton-Jackson said. “I like the comfort and familiarity of a place where everyone knows your name and you know who your neighbor is. It’s yet small enough to serve each other well.”
Rasmussen is the embodiment of serving neighbors well.
He’s also the fitting recipient of the spirit award, as his infectious energy has helped fuel his efforts as prevention specialist for Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services.
He is full of catchphrases, constantly praising community members with a rousing “you’re the best” or one that area leaders have come to know well.
“If you don’t know Alan, he takes problems head on and he says ‘we’re going to put the keys on the table,’” Culpeper Police Department Captain Chris Settle said. “He puts everything out there.”
Rasmussen has helped form and worked with numerous coalitions battling drug addiction and suicide including the Scott Fisher Foundation, the Rusty Bowers Foundation, Team Jordan, Come As You Are and Healthy Culpeper.
“I’m blown away today,” Rasmussen said. “In the 42 years I’ve done professional work I can’t really remember a time I’ve ever received a major award for anything. I always felt I’ve done some good work and I had my heart in the right place. It’s a testament to the people of this community.”
He was quick to point out the work that others have contributed, bringing to mind the saying that “it takes a village.”
“The work I do doesn’t happen just with me,” Rasmussen said. “Prevention is community work and you need community members involved. This is where I get my energy. I like to make a difference. I find that in this work, in this community you can do that with the involvement of key groups.”
The 4th of July parade will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. during Culpeper’s 4th of July celebration in downtown Culpeper.