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Markael Watkins receives Distinguished Hoosier Award

Photo caption: Governor Eric Holcomb and Markael Watkins

Gary native Markael Watkins is one of the most recent recipients of the Distinguished Hoosier Award. It was dated July 25, 2023, and signed by Governor Eric J. Holcomb. For residents in the State of Indiana, the Distinguished Hoosier Award is one of the highest awards the governor can bestow upon a citizen.

Markael Watkins has lived and worked in the City of Gary his entire life. He is a long-time employee of United Steel Workers, where he has also been recognized by the United Steel Workers Union on many occasions for his community outreach and service. Watkins is the Chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee for the Northwest Indiana NAACP.

Watkins began a bike drive during the Christmas holiday in 2017, which has become an annual event. Each year Watkins provides bicycles to children in local shelters and through other low-income programs. His dedication led to increased donations over the years and happier holidays for many children.

Although his commitment to serving his community has not always been recognized, it has not stopped Watkins from doing any less. The awards and honors he has received include the Vanessa Jenkins Award for Racial and Economic Justice in February 2023 from Black Labor Week; the YWCA Circle of Friends Award in October 2022; Gary International Black Film Festival 2021 Impact Award for Outstanding Community Service; and the United Steel Workers National Jefferson Award in 2018, which is the highest honor given to a union member for outstanding community work.

He is also involved in Northwest Indiana politics as the campaign manager for State Representative Ragen Hatcher and State Senator Eddie Melton.

Watkins attended and graduated from William A. Wirt High School in 1992. He lives in Gary with his wife, Channae, and their three daughters, Channael, Jannae and Makaela.

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