By Ciara Smith, Gary Crusader
The Katie Hall Educational Foundation honored national leaders at its fifth annual Public Awards Luncheon on April 8th at the Genesis Convention Center.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Hidden Figures author Margot Shetterly and The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton were honored.
Junifer Hall, daughter of the late Katie Hall, presented the Foundation’s awards.
“This year the Foundation’s highest honor is being presented to an individual or individuals who have exemplified extraordinary public service in their local community, state, nation, or the world. This year the Foundation is recognizing three highly talented individuals who have made outstanding contributions to humanity,” said Hall.
Freeman-Wilson, the first female African American Mayor of the city of Gary, Margot Lee Shetterly, best-selling author of Hidden Figures, and Lee H. Hamilton, an author and former member of the United States Congress, were the Co-2017 recipients of the Katie Hall Public Service Award.
As a member of Congress, U.S. Representative Hamilton voted for House of Representatives Bill H.R. 3706, commonly known as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Law, in 1983. The bill was authored and sponsored by his colleague, former U.S. Representative Katie Hall, representing Indiana’s First Congressional District, and signed into federal law by President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983.
Though Dr. King’s birthday is now observed on the third Monday in January, the bill to honor him was initially delayed for 14 years, until Katie Hall was chosen to replace Representative Adam Benjamin after his death. She was Indiana’s first Black member of the House and went on to serve as Gary’s City Clerk.
She passed in 2012, but her legacy lives on through students, honorees, inspired politicians, and those who gather annually to celebrate her achievements, and who follow in her footsteps.
The two scholarships offered by the Katie Hall Foundation support local students. One scholarship was presented at Saturday’s luncheon. The Harriet Tubman Essay Contest Winners were announced by the honorable Mary Brown, Councilwoman of Gary’s 3rd District.
Special award recipients included Mr. Dameon Shaw, interim Vice President of University Advancement, for Mississippi Valley State University; Attorneys Michael Tolbert and Shelice Tolbert; the Honorable Richard Gordon Hatcher, the first African American Mayor of Gary; and Attorney Carl E. Douglas.
A special acknowledgement was given to a group of Katie Hall Foundation associates. The group included political, legal, academic, and business supporters. Gary Crusader Publisher and Editor, Dorothy R. Leavell was among those acknowledged.
The keynote address was given by Douglas, the former attorney for celebrity clients O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson.
“I’m well aware of the contributions of Katie Hall and her efforts to make the King Bill, the third Monday in January a national holiday, celebrating the life and the time of Martin Luther King. He gave his service to others, and his life as well, so I feel blessed to be here,” said Attorney Douglas.