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MLK, Jr. Community Service Awards

Mark your calendars for Johns Hopkins’ 34th Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, which will be held Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus. The theme is “The Beloved Community: A Force for Social Change.”

Denyce Graves, an internationally known opera singer and faculty member in the Voice Department at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, will perform and deliver one of the program’s keynote speeches.

The event, the first since the death last April of its founder, civil rights activist and medical pioneer Levi Watkins Jr., will also feature his nephew, Levi Garraway, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine at Dana-Farber Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Broad Institute.

As has been the tradition, Unified Voices, a choir of local residents and Johns Hopkins employees, will perform, and there will be a video tribute to Dr. Watkins, who started the commemoration in 1982.

Recording of Commemoration




2015 Recipients of the Community Service Award

Celebrate the achievements of the following 2015 MLK Jr. Community Service Awards recipients for their volunteer work in mentoring, fundraising for scholarships and other efforts to help those in need:

  • Carla Beckford, manager of employment services for Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • April Holmes, medication technician for Hopkins ElderPlus
  • Lee Keagle, application coordinator for Epic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Kekoa Taparra, Ph.D. candidate in cellular and molecular medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Joe Smith, director of local government affairs for The Johns Hopkins University
  • Annie Umbricht, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Corey Williams, manager of IT clinical operations and eRadiology Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Jelani Zarif, postdoctoral fellow in urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Who is eligible?

All faculty, staff, graduate students and retirees of the university, all staff, employees and retirees of the hospital and health system, and persons regularly assigned to work at Hopkins through affiliated organizations are eligible to receive the award. Members of the Martin Luther King, Jr. nomination review panels, executive committee, and celebration committee are not eligible.

How does the nomination process work?

Anyone may nominate an individual who has volunteered time and energy during 2015 to benefit others. Previous recipients may be re-nominated on the basis of a new volunteer activity performed in 2015. Self-nominations are accepted. All nominations must be submitted on the nomination form and include the following information by Friday, November 6. Nominations for 2015 are closed. 

  1. Nominee's name, address, telephone number, position, and department in which he or she is currently employed.
  2. A detailed description of the community service the nominee performed; the impact of the volunteer work; any special qualities, creativity and/or resourcefulness the nominee demonstrated; and length of volunteer involvement. (You may want to review the information with the nominee to ensure that you have the most accurate information regarding his or her volunteer work and the impact of the volunteerism.)
  3. Reasons why the nominee should be recognized by this award.
  4. Nominator's name, address, and telephone number.


What are the criteria for selection?

The nomination review panels will base their recommendations on the nominee's accomplishments achieved through voluntary community service and the impact of that service on the surrounding community. Panels will consider special qualities demonstrated by the nominee and the nominee's resourcefulness while performing community service. The frequency of the activity as well as the length of service will also be considered. Preference will be given to community service performed locally; however, panels will consider service performed elsewhere.

Who chooses the recipients?

Two nomination review panels, one composed of university employees and one composed of hospital employees, will evaluate the nominations. The panels will make their selections and forward their recommendations to the Martin Luther King, Jr. executive committee for final review and approval. All nominators and award recipients will be notified in November 2015.

Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Celebration Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers for January 8, 2016 are Dr. Levi Garraway and Denyce Graves.

2015 - Morris Dees (See Commemeration Recording)1999 - Julian Bond
2014 - Freeman A. Hrabowski1998 - Levi Watkins and Benjamin Carson
2013 - Benjamin Jealous1997 - Kweisi Mfume
2012 - Martin Luther King, III1996 - The Rev. Bernice King
2011 - Shirley Sherrod and Regina Benjamin1995 -  Sweet Honey in the Rock
2010 - Lou Gossett, Jr.
1994 - Yolanda King, Ossie Davie, and Ruby Dee
2009 - Lynn Whitfield and Congressman Elijah E. Cummings1993 - Johnetta Coles and Maya Angelou
2008 - Levi Watkins1990 - Stevie Wonder
2007 - Maya Angelou1988 -  Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy
2006 - James Earl Jones1987 - Zenani Mendela and Benjamin Hooks
2005 - Rev. Jesse Jackson1986 - The Rev. Desmond Tutu
2004 - Cicely Tyson1985 - Harry Belafonte
2003 - Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, Ideals Award Recipient1984 - Andre Young
2002- Coretta Scott King1983 - Coretta Scott King
2001 - John Lewis and Dick Gregory, Ideals Award Recipient1982 - Martin Luther King, III and Bernard Lee
2000 - Taylor Branch 


Updated 01/04/2016