Nominations sought for 2022 MLK Community Service Award

Award recognizes those who reflect the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By: Andy Kozlowski | Southfield Sun | Published November 24, 2021

 An estimated 1,000-person crowd embarks on the peace walk on a frigid morning Jan. 20.

An estimated 1,000-person crowd embarks on the peace walk on a frigid morning Jan. 20.

Photo by Sean Work

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SOUTHFIELD — For more than 30 years, Southfield’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force has recognized people whose actions honor the spirit of the group’s namesake.

Now the group is seeking nominations for the 34th recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award.

“This award is given to the nominee who most closely demonstrates the ideals of unity and harmony between individuals of all races and nationalities, seeking justice and equality for all by showing dignity and love in nonviolent ways, as espoused by Dr. King,” said Faira Glenn, the president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force, in an email.

Nominees must live or work in Southfield or Lathrup Village and be 18 years of age or older. Past recipients and current elected officials are not eligible. Nominees will be evaluated based on their commitment to the advancement of human and civil rights, as well as their community service.

The nomination letter must include the name, address and telephone number of both the person nominating and the person being nominated. The person nominating must also describe why they feel their chosen candidate deserves to win.

Mail the nomination letter to Dorothy Dean, Community Service Award Committee chair, 26677 W. 12 Mile Road, Southfield, Michigan 48034, or email it to deanlaw@sbcglobal.net.

The deadline for nominations is Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

“We seek nominees who have dedicated their life to serving the needs of humanity in their community, or someone who has been instrumental in the advancement of human rights and civil rights of their fellow mankind,” Dean said in an email.

She recounted how, over the years, “we have had some amazing recipients,” including in 1989, when the second award went to Dr. William G. Anderson, who was part of the Civil Rights movement and actually worked alongside King during the Albany movement in the 1960s. Anderson had done his postgraduate medical training in Michigan, having completed his general surgery residency at the Arts Centre Hospital in Detroit. He continued to rally for human rights in the medical world and would go on to become the first African-American to be elected president of the American Osteopathic Association in 1994.

Another notable recipient Dean cited was the 2012 recipient, the Rev. Angelo Henderson, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished feature writing in journalism. Henderson joined the Detroit News in 2001 and was selected because he helped shed a light on the need of marginalized residents of Southfield, working for the good of the community.

The following year, 2013, the award went to Patrick Coleman, the managing partner of the restaurant Beans & Cornbread, chosen for support of the annual Taste Fest, providing free food to the community.

The recipient last year was Darla Van Hoey, chosen for her advocacy work on behalf of indigenous people; her research led the city of Southfield to proclaim Indigenous Peoples Day in 2018 in lieu of Columbus Day.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so all donations to the group are tax deductible. The group oversees commemorative efforts such as the annual peace walk held each year in King’s honor — the first was in 1986, making Southfield among the earliest cities to hold the walk in Michigan. The group also offers scholarships for students and has established a Youth Peacemaker Program and an Educational Committee.

Other notable projects over the years have included working with the Charles H. Wright Museum and a Mexican delegation to create an exhibit in 2012 titled “Pathways to Freedom in the Americas: Shared Experiences between Michigan, USA and Guerrero, Mexico,” which continues to be featured at libraries, universities and corporate offices around the metro Detroit area.

In 2015, for the group’s 30th anniversary, the Task Force commissioned an artist to create a sculptured bust of King that was presented to the Southfield Public Library. The Task Force also created a history book at that time, featuring special guests including civil rights attorney Fred Gray, who was the attorney to King and Rosa Parks. Aretha Franklin was also in attendance at the event.

In 2017, the Task Force held a “Freedom Ride” with 27 middle school and high school students from Wayne and Oakland counties; they traveled on a bus learning about the history of the Civil Rights movement. The bus took them to several places, including the National African American Museum in Washington, D.C.; The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia; the Civil Rights Museum, where King was assassinated, in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

More recently, in 2019, the Task Force helped organize a youth leadership program where local students participated in seminars, dialogues and workshops on non-violent activism, run by certified trainers from The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Today, the Task Force has more than 50 active members. Past membership peaked around 200 members. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.MLKtaskforceMI.org.

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