This past week, Creighton hosted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration that awarded students living out King’s dream of acceptance and equality for all, as part of the week-long program, “Everyone Counts.”
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was truly a spokesperson for all Americans,” the Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., said.
“Justice, peace, equality, fairness, all those issues that he fought for and died for — some resolved and others not resolvedto our satisfaction. This is a great way to come together to remind ourselves that those values that he embraced, lived in and promoted, that he believed in so greatly, we at Creighton University with our Jesuit and Catholic foundation believe in too.”
Those attending the celebration included Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, Lannon, the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee and representatives from several community organizations, including Project Interfaith and The Empowerment Network.
Elementary and Creighton students, as well as community programs and leaders, were
nominated for five different awards. The awards included the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Award, President’s Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award, the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., Diversity Award for Excellence and Innovation. Awards also included the Elementary Student Essay and Poster Contest and the Martin Luther King Jr.
Committee Award.The Martin Luther King Jr. Student Leadership Awards are given annually to Creighton students who put into practice the ideals of King. Recipients are involved in activities that promote social justice, peace, religious, racial and cultural harmony and inspire others.
Four of the recipients of this award were from the College of Arts & Sciences and included sophomore Katie Garrity, junior Elizabeth Samson and seniors Kathleen McGlynn and Carissa Smith. School of Pharmacy senior Jeffrey Barnes and two Law School students, junior Janette Taylor and senior Kerri Schmitt, also won the award.
Beth Katz, founder of Project Interfaith, and Willie Barney, president/facilitator of The Empowerment Network, each received the President’s Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award.
This award is given to individuals who have demonstrated King’s legacy in the areas of social justice and civil rights advocacy. Honorees have exhibited distinguished civic, cultural or volunteer service and demonstrated a commitment to the educational and community ideals supported by Creighton University’s mission statement.
Project Interfaith is a community organization that grows understanding, respect and relationships among people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures in Omaha. The Empowerment Network works collectively to improve the quality of life for African-Americans of North Omaha and the Greater Omaha area.
Creighton also sought to reward those organizations and individuals that have made a positive impact on Creighton and the community through promotion of diversity or inclusion.
The Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., Diversity Award for Excellence and Innovation is presented to people who have contributed to the University and its mission and have been involved in diversity–related partnerships in the local community.
Creighton’s Dr. Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, M.D., won the individual diversity award, while Creighton’s Gateway Program won the unit/organization diversity award. The Gateway program, founded by Jessica Swisher, helps low-income, underprivileged minority students fill out the complex Gates Millenium Scholarship application.
Students from both the Jesuit Middle School and Liberty Middle School, Creighton’s partner schools, also participated in the celebration. Fourth and fifth graders from each school submitted posters and essays about what King’s dream meant to them. The top five posters and essays, as well as their authors and artists, were honored at the assembly.
The final award, the Martin Luther King Jr.CommitteeAward,waspresentedtoTamara Smith. This award honored her as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee who has been an advocate for and provided outstanding support for the ideals of King.