By Dana Rettig, Gary Crusader
The Gary Frontiers Service Club annually recognizes individuals who have shown a personal commitment and dedication to serving others. Eight individuals have been nominated as Dr. Martin Luther King Marchers; they will now also be considered for recipients of the distinguished Drum Major Award.
The 2017 Drum Major Award will be presented at the 38th Annual Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast. The ceremony will take place Saturday, January 14, 2017 at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary, IN. The event begins at 8 a.m.
The MLK Memorial Breakfast recognized its first Marcher, Congresswoman Katie Hall, in 1986. Award creators indicated her selection was based on her demonstration of a lifetime of dedication to improving the human condition of others. Since that first award, 80 Marchers and 21 Drum Majors have been acknowledged for their community service.
Yokefellow Oliver Gilliam, president of the Gary Frontiers Service Club, Inc., and Yokefellow Attorney Clorius Lay, Breakfast Chairman, say the memorial breakfast will follow a traditional format with several newcomers to the program. Lay said, “No one, including myself, could have visualized that the breakfast that Yokefellow Robert Freeland started in 1980 would grow to where it is today in 2017.”
Organizers of the event say that no Breakfast speaker is identified as the “MLK keynote speaker” because guests have the privilege of hearing brief remarks from representatives of municipal, state, and federal governments. This year, attendees will also hear from two notable community contributors: Dorothy R. Leavell, Publisher and Editor of the Gary and Chicago Crusader Newspapers; and Rosemarie Joiner, Executive Director, John Will Anderson Boys and Girls Club of Gary, Indiana.
Officials on the program include Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, City of Gary; Peter J. Visclosky U.S. Representative, 1st District, Indiana; Rev. Curtis T. Hill Jr., Indiana Attorney General; Ronald ‘Ron’ Brewer Sr., President, Gary City Council; Pastor Jacquelyn Drago-Hunter, First Church of God, Gary, IN; and Rev. Curtis Lee, Pastor, Gethsemane Baptist Church, Gary, IN.
“We actually are not honoring Dr. Martin Luther King with this breakfast. He has been honored with a national holiday and was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. We are honoring people who are continuing to carry on Dr. King’s legacy” Lay said, adding “in spite of what has gone on, the struggle continues.”
The 2017 Marchers, and Drum Major Award nominees, will be presented at the 38th Annual Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast: Dr. Vanessa Allen; Natalie Ammons, W. D. Brewer; Denise C. Dillard; Deacon James L. Holloway; Patrician Owens-Lee; Rev. R. Jerry Protho; and Commander Kerry Rice, Sr.