Award Profile: T. Dianne Bellamy-Small ’74

T. Dianne Bellamy-Small ’74

2021 Beech Outstanding Alumni Award

If you refer to T. Dianne Bellamy Small as a politician, don’t be surprised if she corrects you. Bellamy Small, a member of the Guilford County Board of Education, prefers to be known as a servant leader. With good reason.

The Winston-Salem native has mentored countless people, including the Rev. William J. Barber II, former state NAACP president and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. She taught GED classes at Guilford Technical Community College and pushed for a Learn to Swim program for second graders, which has helped over 7,000 Guilford County youth learn the basics of swimming. And that’s just a fraction of her service.

Bellamy Small is a recipient of the 2021 Harvey E. Beech Outstanding Alumni Award. She was nominated by Tony Collins, a 1985 UNC graduate. “I’ve admired her work over the years and the impact she’s had in the High Point, Greensboro, Winston-Salem community she cares about,” says Collins, chief development officer of Collins Global Services, Inc., based in the Triad. “I’m delighted that her work is being honored, because it reflects where we are as a society in terms of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. She’s worked on this her whole adult life.”

Bellamy Small believes strongly in Luke 12:48, “To Whom Much is Given, Much is Required.”

She’s the oldest of four, has a passion for helping young people and has been a teacher in the past. “If a young person approaches me, I stop and respond to them,” she says. “I was young once, and the adults in my life helped me.”

Bellamy Small wanted to be in the marching band in junior high because “back in the ’60s, the marching bands in high school were like what you saw in the movie ‘Drumline.’ ”

She played a clarinet until her father stopped her from playing as punishment. At that point she joined the chorus, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because her instructor, Laura Roberts Wall, showed an interest in her and helped her become good enough to perform solos.

“I’d go to her between classes or after school and sometimes she’d tell me, ‘Well, Dianne, I don’t have but 15 minutes,’ but she’d take time with me,” Bellamy Small says. “I loved her dearly and try to get teachers to understand the impact and power they can have in a child’s life.”

Bellamy Small is now an accomplished, sought-after singer specializing in Negro spirituals.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from Carolina in 1974, studying under Martha Flowers, Carolina’s first Black music professor. Bellamy Small was also a walk-on player on the volleyball and basketball teams and a sports reporter for the school newspaper.

She spent 10 years on the Greensboro City Council and is now serving her second term on the Guilford County school board. She lives by the mantra “inform, empower and engage,” is the mother of three sons and the grandmother to 14 and never tires of helping others.

“She’s not doing anything for accolades,” Collins says. “She does it because she has a heart for the community. Sometimes her energy and her efforts have been misunderstood, but she’s been at the forefront of a lot of positive things. When I asked about nominating her, she didn’t expect it, and it struck a chord. When we received notice that she was chosen, she cried.”

Bellamy Small met Collins through his mother, with whom she’s been friends for 35 years.

“For my alma mater to recognize me, particularly at this stage in my life, says it really matters that I went to Carolina,” she says. “I was able to take away something from the University that has made a difference in my life and given me the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives. Carolina gave me the ability to take the path less traveled.”