Hoyer says “soul and character of our country” that MLK talked about “is at risk today.”
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and educator Dr. Marcella Maxwell were among five leaders from different fields honored at the 29th “International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast” in Washington, DC on January 19th.
Maxwell received the Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award, named after the former president of the National Council of Negro Women, while Hoyer, Ronald Mason Jr., Bill Milliken, and Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. received “King Legacy” awards.
Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, received the “King Legacy Award for Leadership and Public Service.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Maryland Democrat stressed the continued importance of King’s message.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the soul and character of our country,” he said. “That is what is at risk today. We talk about issues of education and healthcare disparities, crime, criminal justice reform… that’s our Martin Luther King, Jr celebration, not remembrance, but action, which is absolutely essential.”
Hoyer was introduced by the Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Frank Islam, who received the King Legacy Award for International Service and Civic Engagement in 2015.
“Throughout his career as a leader and as a public servant, [Hoyer] had extended and expanded the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Islam. Describing the Maryland Democrat as a champion of civil and human rights, he pointed out that Hoyer was one of the main sponsors of the historic federal election reform bill “Help America Vote Act,” signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002, and managed the passage of the “American Disabilities Act,” which helped millions of Americans with disabilities enter the work force.
Contributions of Maxwell, Mason Jr., Milliken, and Taylor Jr. in the fields of education, business, social justice, and public service were also recognized at the breakfast.
Maxwell, 93, who received the Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award, from Vice Chair Thelma T. Daley, has dedicated a lifetime serving in roles that push for the engagement and empowerment of women.
Mason, Jr. was presented the King Legacy Award for Leadership in Education by Jeanne C. Sinkford. Serving as the ninth president of the University of the District of Columbia, he has been at the helm of several projects that are committed to enhancing education throughout his career.
Milliken received the King Legacy Award for National Service for his work in advocating for disenfranchised youth and troubled teens. He was presented the award by Pakistani American Rafat Mahmood and his wife, Shaista, who were Co-Chairs of the “MLJ, Jr. International Salute Celebrations.”
Taylor, Jr. was awarded the King Legacy Award for Advocacy in Education and Human Capital by Jean Bailey. The President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one of the largest HR professional groups in the world, Taylor, Jr., is also a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.
The awards ceremony took place at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, the day before MLK day. Among the attendees were a number of diplomats from different countries.