Ohio's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission in a special ceremony in Columbus
State of Ohio honors Denison in Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony
Posted: January 17, 2008
COLUMBUS -- The State of Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission has presented its 2008 awards recognizing efforts to advance nonviolent social change. More than 400 people filled Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square in Columbus today, Jan. 17, as the students, faculty and staff of Denison University were honored with the first-ever Dream in Action Award. In receiving the recognition, Denison was credited with moving "to direct positive action" and "promoting understanding, racial unity and the appreciation of diversity" in its campus community.
|Pictured with the State of Ohio's MLK Dream in Action Award are, from left: Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission Chair James L. Stowe, Denison senior Romero Huffstead, Denison sophomore Daniel Murphy, and State Senate Minority Leader Ray Miller.|
In early November, incidents of racial and cultural insensitivity and intolerance caused controversy and tension on Denison's campus. In response, large numbers of students, faculty, administration, and staff came together in a series of events and campus-wide discussions to condemn such behavior and to reaffirm the Denison community's value of diversity, as well as mutual respect, tolerance, and civility, as noted in the University's mission statement.
The centerpiece of these activities was a campus-wide forum on community, symbolism and inclusion at the college called by Denison's president Dale Knobel. On Nov. 7 classes were canceled, offices were closed, and more than 2,000 students and employees gathered in the college's expansive Mitchell Athletics and Recreation Center to review the community's core values and examine challenges to them. These historic conversations were, at times, heated by differing points of view and hampered by misunderstandings. They were characterized, however, by hallmarks of the University's mission, which call on Denisonians to be "autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents and active citizens of a democratic society."
Of these events, the State of Ohio said in its citation, "Instead of resulting in confusion and dysfunction, the students, faculty and administration resolved to discuss, debate and understand. Through a series of public meetings, open forums and internal discussions, they moved to direct positive action."
Accepting the state's 2008 Dream in Action Award on behalf of Denison were students Romero Huffstead, a senior from Skokie, Ill., and Daniel Murphy, a sophomore from Buffalo Grove, Ill. Also recognized for Denison's award were Dale Knobel, university president, and Lisa Scott, director of institutional equity and diversity. Denison's award was presented by Leonard J. Hubert, a member of Ohio's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.
Ohio Senate Minority Leader Ray Miller (D-Columbus) addressed the crowd on behalf of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. Quoting a message from the governor, Miller said the award winners are "living examples of Dr. King's legacy."
Also speaking at the event, presented under the theme "The Dream Is Alive," were James L. Stowe, chair of the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission, and commission member Fannie L. Brown. Speaking with passion and sincerity, Stowe told the audience, "This year's winners are proof that the dream is alive. They are the best Ohio has to offer. They are the best humanity has to offer."
The ceremony also featured moving speeches by four school children named as winners of the 2008 Ohio Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest, as well as inspiring music by the Focus on Collective Integrity Performance Choir.
A reception for the participants and award winners followed the ceremony at the Ohio State House.
- DU -
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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