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MLK commission honors outstanding community leaders, organizations

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission presented special awards to two outstanding individuals as well as to a community center, an educational center, a youth organization, an animal hospital and a musical group.

The following organizations were honored at Thursday’s annual MLK Awards Luncheon:

The MLK Award for Advocacy will be presented to CONNECT Ministries – an organization under the direction of Keira A. Wyatt that provides special programs for youth.

The MLK Education Award will be presented to the Crutcher Memorial Youth Enrichment Center – an organization that has the goal of motivating young students by nurturing their talents.

The MLK Business Award will be presented to the Ashville Highway Animal Hospital because of their commitment to high quality veterinary services and support of the community.

Other awards slated to be presented during the week long celebration include:

On Sunday evening, January 20th during the “Night With the Arts” program, the MLK Arts Award will be presented to Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, a local musical group that significantly honors the rich heritage and cultural legacy of our community.

On Monday, January 21st, during the Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church MLK Memorial Tribute Service at noon, Ms. Rita Geier will be presented the MLK Chair’s Award for pioneer work in civil rights and the special work she as done in higher education in Tennessee.  Also at that event, Joe Armstrong will receive the MLK Distinguished Service Award and the Beck Cultural Exchange Center will receive the MLK Community Service Award.  Joe Armstrong is our State Representative for the 15th Legislative District and has worked especially hard to promote social justice. The Beck Cultural Exchange Center promotes research, preservation, and collections of significant African-American materials as well as other community services.

The MLK Commission will also honor Ruth Sharp Benn as the Grand Marshal of the MLK annual parade Monday morning, January 21st.  Ms. Benn has a distinguished career as a teacher and recently served as Principal of Beardsley Junior High School.

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will hold A Concert in Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tonight at 6 p.m. This concert, free and open to the public, will take place at the Tennessee Theatre. The concert is sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission of Greater Knoxville and Knox County Commissioners Amy Broyles and Sam McKenzie.

For more info about the celebration please visit the MLK Commision website at