Today was the official state and federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. There was no school, but it was the birthday of our own Emmy Bullock. Happy Birthday, Emmy!

That evening the 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recommitment Community Banquet was held at the Fayetteville Town Center.  The theme for all the Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King activities was “Realizing the Dream by Embracing Change.”  The activities were sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee whose mission statement is “To continue to advance and promote the dream, life, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which emphasizes love and action.”  The Committee’s purpose is “to promote awareness, education, and unity throughout the Northwest Arkansas community.”  A few of the other events the Committee sponsored included:  January 17, Service of Praise and Reflection; January 19, MLK March/City Awards Program; January 20, Film: “King,” a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.; January 23, The Honorable Marion Humphrey, lecture and reception; and January 28, Dr. Pearl Ford, “African Americans in Politics,” brown bag discussion.

The Masters of Ceremonies were Rafael Arciga Garcia and Ana Aguayo from the League of the United Latin American Citizens.  The program consisted of:  Invocation – Pastor Charlie Brown, Ridgeview Baptist Church; “Negro National Anthem”; Greetings – Mayor Lioneld Jordan, City of Fayetteville, and Dr. Bob McMath, Interim Provost, University of Arkansas; Dinner; Introduction of Speaker – Angela Monts, University of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee; Keynote Speaker – Dr. Gene C. Young, Jackson, Mississippi; followed by the Awards Presentation.

(Left to right):Judy's husband, Bob's wife, Bob, Don Bland (Senior Managing Directory of Outreach), myself, and Judy

Left to right: Judy's husband, Bob's wife, Bob, Don Bland (Senior Managing Directory of Outreach), myself, and Judy

Right before the “Negro National Anthem,” I realized that our own Associate Dean Judith Kipatrick was receiving a Lifetime Achievement award and she wasn’t there.  As it turned out, no one had told her that she had won the award!  So, I left the banquet and zoomed over to her house to pick her up.  I banged on her door and caught her by surprise, but she was able to get dressed in a flash and we rode back and arrived in time while the dinner was still going on.  We missed the greetings from Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Dr. Bob McMath.  Angela Monts, Associate Director of Northwest Arkansas Alumni Programs, introduced the speaker.  She is also a member of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee.  She and Dr. Young have a very warm, personal relationship.  In fact, it is that friendship that got Dr. Young to agree to speak at our Martin Luther King Banquet.  (He mentioned several times the fact that he wanted to make sure that he was able to leave in time to be present at the inauguration the next day.)  Dr. Young joined the battle for civil rights in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963, at the age of 12.  He took part in the March in Washington and was in the audience for King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  He has remained active in the movement throughout his life.  He earned his doctorate at the University of Connecticut, was director of the Black Studies program at Bradley University and later taught at Jackson State University.

Judith receiving her award from Ernestine Gibson

Judith receiving her award from Ernestine Gibson

The speech was followed by the awards presentation.  Harry McCraney received the Rodney Momon Youth Award; Judge Kim Smith received the Individual Achievement Award; Judith Kilpatrick and Esther Silver Parker each received a Lifetime Achievement Award; and Lodene Deffebaugh and David Jackson each received a Rev. J. Aaron Hawkins, Sr. Posthumous Award.  The Corporation of the Year was The Bank of Fayetteville.

Dr. Johnetta Cross Brazzell, along with Isabelle Brummer (wife of our own Chauncey Brummer), presented the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarships.  The 2009 Scholarship Recipients were:  High School – Anna Bever, Katherine Clements, Jennifer Cole, Kelsie Cox, Matt Fryauf, Paige Hilton, and Brett Meek.  Undergraduates – Lindsay Camp, Tanvi Chowdhary, Nicholas Glover, Huan Guo, Julia Johannesen, Vitesh Patel, Rocio Pena, Ashleigh Toatley, Adam Waddell, and Chris Walton.  Graduate/Law – Stephanie Adams, Obadiah Kegege, Nabil Lehlou, Hugh Medal, and Byron Winston.

Ernestine W. Gibson, President of the Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee, gave the closing remarks for the banquet.  The dinner is a very well-attended event that has outgrown several venues and ended up at the Town Center in order to accommodate everyone.  The law school purchased a table and I appreciate the members of the law school community who attended.