The Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 6, 2003
January 6, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 16


Danny Glover to Lead MLK Jr. Tribute

Harry Belafonte will be recognized for lifelong work as a humanitarian

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

A world-class duo of entertainer/activists will help Johns Hopkins celebrate the birthday of Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr. when its annual remembrance event takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10.

Begun in 1982, the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration endeavors to honor King's legacy of nonviolent activism and community service. In keeping with tradition, it again will take place in Turner Auditorium on the East Baltimore campus and be broadcast to several other university and health system locations.

Keynote speaker for the event is Danny Glover, a star of stage and screen and an international human rights activist. Glover will share the stage with Harry Belafonte, entertainer and humanitarian, who will receive the Ideals Award in recognition of his outstanding service and commitment to King's principles.

Keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, which typically draws 1,000 people, will be actor/human rights activist Danny Glover.

Levi Watkins, founder of the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Celebration and chair of its committee, says this year's two heavyweight guests will continue the legacy of what has become one of the "premier programs of its kind in America." Past speakers have included Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks.

A native of San Francisco, Danny Glover has appeared in numerous stage productions, including The Island, Macbeth and Master Harold and the Boys. His film credits include Places in the Heart, Witness, The Color Purple, the Lethal Weapon series and The Royal Tenenbaums. In 1988, Glover received an NAACP Image Award as well as an ACE Award for his performance in HBO's production of Mandela.

A veteran behind the scenes as well, he served as executive producer of both Buffalo Soldier, a dramatic story of America's first all-black cavalry unit, and Freedom Song, a story about the civil rights movement, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

In response to the AIDS crisis in Africa, Glover became the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program. In 2001, he assumed the board chairmanship of TransAfrica Forum, an African-American lobbying organization on Africa and the Caribbean. He also actively serves on the board of the Algebra Project, a math empowerment program developed by civil rights veteran Bob Moses.

Watkins, associate dean for postdoctoral programs and professor of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine, says that while most people know Glover as an "incredible actor," they should also see a staunch activist and human rights advocate.

"What attracted me to securing Danny was his work in trying to execute Dr. King's dream, both nationally and internationally--chiefly his activist work with TransAfrica Forum," Watkins says. "And, of course, I was blown away by Lethal Weapon."

The Ideals Award, an occasionally bestowed honor, will be presented to Harry Belafonte, who was the event's keynote speaker in 1985. Probably best known as the singer who popularized calypso music in America in the 1950s, Belafonte has enjoyed a lengthy and diverse career as an actor, producer and music composer and arranger. He was the first black performer to win an Emmy (for Tonight With Belafonte) and the first recording artist to have an album sell over a million copies (Calypso). A close friend of Martin Luther King, Belafonte dedicated himself to activism following the civil rights leader's slaying and has fought against racism, violence and world hunger.

Harry Belafonte

Watkins, a longtime friend of Belafonte's, says the entertainer has been a true leader of "the movement" for more than three decades. The award, he says, recognizes Belafonte's "lifetime commitment to and articulation of racial issues designed to promote democracy."

An estimated 1,000 people are expected at the commemoration event, which will include musical entertainment by the United Voices choir, a gospel group whose ranks include Hopkins staff and community members.

Those who are unable to attend in person can view the event on closed-circuit television at 218 Maryland Hall, Homewood; Kossiakoff Center, APL; East Wing Auditorium, Bloomberg School of Public Health; Surgical Conference Room 560, A Building, 5th floor center, Bayview; and Tilghman Auditorium, Hurd Hall and Patient Channel 60, JHH.

The event also will include the 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards ceremony, in which eight Hopkins employees will be honored for demonstrating through community service the spirit of volunteerism and citizenship that characterized King's life (see story below).

Nominees are evaluated by panels of faculty and staff at their institutions and then are recommended to the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration executive committee, which selects the winners. A seven-member panel reviews the university nominations, and a four-member panel evaluates hospital nominees.

In making its decision, each panel looks at five criteria: how vital the project is to the well-being of the community; how well-received and well-supported the project is within the community; the impact of the person's participation on the overall project; the impact on the community; and the person's commitment to the activity or project.

Community Service Awards

A medical student, a violence prevention coordinator and an inventory management clerk will be among the eight Hopkins associates presented this year with Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, which honor unselfish volunteer work. The awards will be presented at the MLK Jr. Commemoration ceremony on Jan. 10 (see below).

Amir Ghaferi, a medical student, will be given an award for his work at the Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center, where he created a tutoring program for community children. The program--which now has more than 30 student volunteers from the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health--services mostly elementary- and middle school-aged children. Ghaferi also helps administer the Dunbar/Hopkins Mentoring Program, which seeks to inform and encourage high school students interested in careers in the health care field.

A manager of adult respiratory care services at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Jeff Natterman is being honored for his efforts with the Tench Tilghman Elementary School. In 2001, Natterman helped raise funds for and launch the school's reading program, called Great Books for Great Kids: The Tench Tilghman Project. This past year, Natterman partnered with the school to coordinate an antismoking poster campaign designed to educate school-age children.

Karen Kemp, a violence prevention coordinator at the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, will receive an award for spearheading the development of the Nu World Art Ensemble, an arts-based initiative that seeks to help Baltimore youth cope with the challenges they face. The year-round program serves to enhance the participant's life skills through the use of music, dancing, singing, script writing and theater production. Kemp also helped organize the first annual Youth Explosion Conference, which brought together more than 500 youth to discuss and develop solutions to their critical concerns.

Barbara Abdullah has dedicated her life to the detection and treatment of breast cancer. A community service coordinator in the Oncology Department at the School of Medicine, Abdullah is a past vice president and current member of Sisters Surviving Inc., a breast cancer support group. Herself a survivor, Abdullah volunteers up to 20 hours each week to educate the community about breast cancer and to participate in activities such as Rise Sister Rise, Tell a Friend and the Johns Hopkins Breast Cancer Quilt Project.

A research assistant in the School of Medicine's Psychiatry Department, Gregory Fuller is being recognized for his work as chair of Disaster Services, a division of the Johns Hopkins Red Cross Corps. In collaboration with the Red Cross, Fuller established a Disaster Action Team, an 80-member group being trained to respond to disasters such as apartment fires that devastate families in and around the Baltimore region. Fuller also works with the university's Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs to promote Homewood's Red Cross Blood Drives.

Aaron McCown, an inventory management clerk for the Johns Hopkins Health System, is being honored for being a mentor, adviser and coach to many East Baltimore children, ages 9 to 11. McCown has coached the Madison Gators basketball and football teams for the past five years and frequently advises "his kids" on school and life issues.

Diane Moses, an addiction therapist at the hospital, volunteers nearly 10 hours a week on a number of activities. She mentors two teenage girls, serves on the board of directors of the Oasis Eutaw Center for the homeless and is a community advocate and liaison for people with substance abuse issues. Moses also spearheaded fund-raising projects for local adolescent sports teams.

A medical lab technician in the School of Medicine's Pathology Department, John Matthew has been recognized for his efforts with the nonprofit organization Kairali of Baltimore. Matthew helped found and is currently president of the Indian organization, which has worked with Habitat for Humanity and sponsors youth soccer tournaments and other endeavors.

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The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration

Danny Glover, keynote speaker
Harry Belafonte, Ideals Award winner
Music by the Unified Voices Choir

Presentation of MLK Jr.
Community Service Awards

Friday, Jan. 10, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Turner Auditorium, East Baltimore campus

Closed circuit locations
APL: Kossiakoff Center
BAYVIEW: Conference room 560, A Bldg., 5th floor center
BSPH: East Wing Auditorium
HOMEWOOD: 218 Maryland Hall
JHH: Hurd Hall, Tilghman
Auditorium and Patient Channel 60