The International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which celebrated its 25th year on Sunday, January 17, presented awards to a distinguished group of international recipients. The event which was held at The Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC., is hosted annually by the Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural & Minority Medicine (lAMMM) in tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The awards are part of the commemorative celebrations in honour of the late Dr. King’s birthday.
The MLK, Jr. International Salute Committee headed by the President of IAMMM and CEO of the International Salute, Madeline Y. Lawson, recognized the distinguished leadership and contributions of exceptional individuals who have positively impacted the global community. Award winners were presented with either the Dr. Dorothy I Height Leadership award, in honour of the late civil rights and women’s rights activist – a founding member of the Salute – who was also a special adviser to several US Presidents, or the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award in honour of the leader of the African-American civil rights movement.
In his capacity as the honorary chair of the committee for the 2016 International Salute, Mr Igho Charles Sanomi II joined fellow committee members to present The Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service to The Honourable Baleka Mbete, the Speaker of the South African National Assembly and National Chairperson of the African National Congress. The Committee acknowledged the shared struggle between South Africa and the United States. Ms Mbete was honoured for her work as a ‘drum major for justice for South Africa’.
In accepting her award, Ms Mbete stated that she never expected the award, but that she accepted the accolade with humility:
“When you do your work, you are not doing it so somebody awards you. You just carry on doing your work. You hardly notice that anyone is watching you. So that someone came to the conclusion that I could be awarded took me by surprise.”
Congratulations have been received from the South African President, Mr Jacob Zuma. President Zuma said:
“I congratulate Ms Mbete for being honoured with this award, which is named after one of the outstanding leaders of the 20th century. This achievement does not only recognise her distinguished service to our nation, it is also an affirmation of the calibre of leadership that South Africa has always and continues to offer to the global community.”
Awards were also presented to:
Gillian Barclay, DDS, MPH, D.Ph., received the Dr. Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award for Philanthropy for her contribution building health leadership for developing countries, strengthening primary health care and public health systems, and building diversity in health leadership to advance and improve the life circumstances of those considered most vulnerable.
Henry Brown, an exceptional academic-turned businessman who was recognized for excellence throughout his career. Brown’s creative and cultural awareness resulted in the development of a pioneering nationwide educational program showcasing the rich ancestry of African Americans. Along with many other accolades, Brown was the recipient of the inaugural Dr. Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award and was a co-founder of the International Salute. He was presented with the King Legacy Founder’s Award.
B. Smith, a restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef, news anchor, lifestyle maven and author, known as a ‘domestic goddess’ and ‘one of the most important African American style mavens of all time,’ received the Dr. Dorothy I. Height Leadership Award for Entrepreneurship.
Glenda Newell-Harris, MD, National President, Links Incorporated, a board certified physician in internal medicine, speaker and media spokesperson on new advances and controversial health issues, received the King Legacy Award for Leadership and Global Community Service in recognition of her expertise as a healthcare consultant for a major international philanthropic organization and her work in Africa to assess the methods of support in delivering safe and effective health care to women.
Clarence Avant, pioneering music executive known as ‘The Godfather of Black Music’, who received the King Legacy Pioneer Award in Entertainment for his work opening doors, mentoring and promoting the careers of up and coming artists throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and for his many ground-breaking achievements in the industry.
Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Pfizer, who received the King Legacy Award for Global Health and Wellness in recognition of her contribution as an advocate for patient empowerment and to healthcare and medicine.
Over 15 ambassadors attended the event including Ambassador Robert Perry, Vice President Corporate Council on Africa and ambassadors to the USA from Cote d’ Ivoire, Mozambique, South Africa, Bahamas, and Angola amongst other countries.
Other distinguished guests and dignitaries included the President of University of District of Columbia, the President of Howard University, who was represented by the Provost of Howard University; US, State and Federal Congressmen and women, such as Virgil Fludd, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a State Representative for Georgia and Congresswoman Karen Bass; Senator Donzella James and Senator Gloria Butler.
The 2016 award winners join a distinguished group of previous recipients including: Igho Charles Sanomi II; Hon. John Conyers, Jr. US representative Michigan; General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary
State; Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, United Nations; John Lewis, US Congressman; Bob Dole, US Senator and a host of ambassadors from the US, France, Africa, United Kingdom and Germany.