Campus & Community

MLK Celebration draws more than 600 people

More than 600 people packed the Duncan Theatre for the 19th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration where keynote speaker Symone Sanders said “the only thing that has ever moved the needle in this country, in our communities and in our neighborhoods is bold, radical and revolutionary change.”

Symone,  democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, used  this year’s recipients of the Martin Luther King, Jr.  Leadership Award and Dr. King’s legacy to encourage the crowd to not wait until they are asked to do something to serve and improve their communities.

“Some of us have been sitting back and waiting on our invitation,” she said. “In the spirit of Dr. King, we don’t have to wait on an invitation. It is more important now than ever, given the state of Florida, given the state of our country, given the state of our world that folks make conscious decisions to be intentional about our revolutionary activity. It is more important for people to understanding that their voices are not only important but vital to the conversation [and] the work is vital to the movement.”

The theme of the celebration, organized by the Palm Beach State College District Diversity Council, was “Building Community through Shared Experiences.” As part of the celebration, the College honored four individuals and and organization that have made a significant impact in improving the lives of others in Palm Beach County.

This year’s recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award are:

  • Lynne Gassant (Alumni), who in 2012 founded Scholar Career Coaching, a nonprofit educational organization that assists South Florida high school students, particularly ESL students in Title 1 schools, with college readiness, career planning, financial literacy and life skills through its afterschool mentoring services.
  • Christian Allen (Student), former president of Future Leaders United for Change, a youth council that serves as the voice of today’s Palm Beach County youth and sets the stage for change. He has served for two years as the male representative on the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Steering Committee. Birth to 22 is a collaborative effort between several government entities and stakeholders within Palm Beach County whose focus is to improve the lives of youth from birth to 22 years old.
  • Dr. Louise Aurélien (Faculty/Staff), director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at PBSC, who has been instrumental in the growth of the program designed for registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma. She has been in the nursing profession for over 25 years and volunteers as an international/visiting nursing faculty at a university in her native Haiti. She was instrumental in the formation/training of the first-ever graduating class of family nurse practitioners in Haiti.
  • James Green (Individual), director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department, who leads the county’s efforts in an array of programs for senior citizens, veterans, low-income residents and the farmworker population. As the former director of the Outreach and Community Programming division of the county’s Youth Services Department, he served as a lead strategist in the development of a cradle-to-career countywide youth master plan called Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures.
  • League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County (Organization), which was founded in West Palm Beach in 1953 and eventually grew into a county league, which is now the third largest league in the United States. Like the national group, which was founded in 1920, the League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County has fought to improve systems of government and has worked tirelessly to ensure that people have a free role in making democracy work.

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