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This year’s theme is centered around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "Give Us the Ballot and We Will Transform the South." In his speech, Dr. King speaks to the importance of political power and the right to vote. He states that the right to vote is a sacred right. A right that should be defended and aggressively upheld. The Reverend goes on to say that if we are to achieve racial justice we need strong leadership from our government and our communities. He speaks to the coming freedom and independence of communities of color and the importance of leading with love. Dr. King suggests that even in victory we must “avoid the temptation of being victimized with the psychology of victors.” We must work to pursue victories while seeking harmony with those who would see us harmed. Dr. King would have us focus on the future and not despair. He states “Let us realize that as we struggle for justice and freedom, we have cosmic companionship.”

Download the full speech here.


Qualifications for this award include anyone in the Twin Port's region exemplifying education equity, racial equity, community service, peace, and/or justice in their life and work.

Award recipients will be announced during the Martin Luther King Jr Rally on January 20, 2020.