January 12, 2013
Danielle Lacey

University, Community Leaders Honor King's Legacy

Seven individuals were honored for their commitment to diversity, equality and civil rights during the second annual memorial tribute.

The 2013 presenters and honorees of SLU's Martin Luther King Jr. memorial tribute.
The presenters and honorees of the 2013 Saint Louis University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial tribute. Photo by Mead Ruesing


Saint Louis University honored the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Friday with a memorial tribute that included music, a recitation of his iconic "I Have A Dream Speech" and words from a civil rights worker who was a member of King's own staff.

Nearly 400 people from the University and members of the St. Louis community attended the luncheon to honor the late civil rights leader. The program kicked off with a recitation of King's famous speech by area voiceover talent D.C. Cooper. View his speech in the video embedded below.


Other speakers included Rabbi Susan Talve, of Central Reform Congregation; Rev. Dr. E.G. Shields, pastor of Mt. Beulah Missionary Baptist Church; Ken Fleischmann, J.D., vice president for Human Resources; and Don Highberger, S.J., special assistant for University Ministry. Michael Patrick McMillan, license collector for the City of St. Louis, served as the master of ceremonies.

Karla Scott, Ph.D., was named the first recipient of the Don Brennen Humanitarian Award.
Karla Scott, Ph.D., associate professor and program director of African American Studies, was named the first recipient of the Don Brennen Humanitarian Award. Photo by Danielle Lacey

The featured speaker of the event was Xernona Clayton, a civil rights leader who worked with King and organized events with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Clayton also has worked with CNN founder Ted Turner to establish the Trumpet Awards, which honor exceptional diverse Americans, and founded the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

Clayton was honored with the Civil Rights Award for her work organizing marches, uncovering discriminatory employment practices and addressing the desegregation of hospitals.

Along with Clayton, SLU honored University and community leaders who have worked to promote equality in the St. Louis community. Those recognized were:

  • Karla Scott, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication and SLU alumna, who received the Donald Brennan Humanitarian Award for her scholarly work and promoting inclusion at Saint Louis University by co-chairing the Diversity Council. The award was named for Donald Brennan, Ph.D., former dean of the University's College of Arts and Sciences, who passed away November 2011, and Scott is the award's first recipient.
  • Juvenile Court Judge Jimmie Edwards, another SLU alumnus, who received the Education Award for his work in founding the Innovative Concept Academy, which provides resources for at-risk students in the St. Louis School District.
  • James Buford, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, who received the Community Service Award. Under Buford, the Urban League of St. Louis was the first affiliate to be designated a five-star affiliate in 2004, a ranking it has maintained ever since.
  • Kathy Osborn, president and CEO of the Regional Business Council, who received the Civic Award for her work fostering high-impact business, civic and philanthropic initiatives that have enhanced the vitality of St. Louis.
  • Thomas Voss, CEO of Ameren, received the Corporate Leadership Award. Each year, Ameren donates millions of dollars to educational programs, senior citizen initiatives, and cultural and social programs.
  • Keith Williamson, senior vice president and general counsel of Centene Corporation, also received the Corporate Leadership Award. Centene and the Centene Charitable Foundation have generously supported the United Way, the American Red Cross, Special Olympics, March of Dimes and many other organizations that assist those in need.

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial tribute was sponsored by the Human Resources MOVE committee.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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