Award winners Ben Navarro (photo credit: Raheel Gauba Fia Forever Photography) and Dot Scott
Announcing the 2017 MLK honorees
The 45th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration will honor three members of our community who have given back:
This award, now in its third year, is named for Charleston’s longest-serving mayor. Much of the MLK Breakfast’s success is attributed to the beloved former mayor's leadership. Creators of the award wanted to carry on his legacy by recognizing people with a similar vision.
This award will be presented at the MLK Business & Professional Breakfast on Tuesday, January 17. (There are only a few tickets left, so if you're interested in attending, call us at 843.722.1644!) AN EDUCATION CHAMPION | This year’s honoree will be education advocate Ben Navarro, founder and CEO of the nation’s largest privately held consumer finance company.
While his company seeks to meet the needs of consumers underserved by traditional financial institutions, Ben Navarro’s personal passion revolves around his belief that all children, regardless of their circumstances, deserve the opportunity to receive an excellent education. He founded Meeting Street Schools in 2008 to provide transformational educational opportunities to children who live in areas where access to quality public education or affordable private alternatives is severely limited.
Meeting Street Schools serves more than 900 children across three South Carolina campuses. In 2014 Ben Navarro gave a TEDxCharleston talk about how its model can close the opportunity gap in South Carolina schools for under-resourced children.
This award, established in 1984, recognizes contributions to civil and human rights. Named after Harvey B. Gantt, an architect and statesman who was the first African-American student to attend Clemson University, the award’s recipients have included Senator Ted Kennedy, South Carolina AFL-CIO President Emeritus Donna Dewitt, and the Honorable Septima Clark.
This award will be presented at the MLK Ecumenical Service on Sunday, January 15. A FREEDOM FIGHTER | This year's honoree will be Dot Scott, president of the Charleston branch of the NAACP, who describes her commitment to its mission as a “laser focus.”
“With abiding faith and the determination of a freedom fighter,” she writes, “I’ve been privileged beyond measure to have this opportunity to be the eyes, ears, and voice for those who feel they need support to have their concerns amplified, addressed, and resolved.”
A fellow of the inaugural class of the Furman University School of Diversity, she is also a minority entrepreneur and the senior choir president and religion chair at Zion United Methodist Church.
A SON OF THE MOTHER EMANUEL NINE
Chris Singleton, son of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, will serve as the MLK Parade marshal on January 16, rain or shine. His grief-stricken story was profiled by Sports Illustrated one year after the shooting. Today he has become a leader at Charleston Southern University's baseball program. We're so proud to have Chris as our parade marshal!
Thank you to this year's Vision Award selection committee: Boeing SC's Tommy Preston (chair), City of Charleston Fire Chief Karen Brack, Live 5 News anchor Debi Chard, Coastal Crisis Chaplain Rob Dewey, Push Digital's Wesley Donahue, MUSC's Anton Gunn, Google's Lilyn Hester, YWCA of Greater Charleston's Danielle Hardee, Palmetto Warrior Connection's D. Jermaine Husser, the International African American Museum's Michael Moore, Citibot's Bratton Riley, Trident Tech's Mary Thornley, and SC Ports Authority's Tate Zeigler.
Thank you also to this year's Harvey Gantt Award selection committee: Clay N. Middleton (chair), Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, Barbara Dilligard, Gloria Gantt Wilford, and Ashley Krejci-Shaw.