Renee Powell Presents Address at Martin Luther King Jr. Day Awards Luncheon
January 23, 2008
Mount Union College students, faculty, staff and community members gathered in the Solarium of the Hoover-Price Campus Center to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and recognize those members of our campus and community who have worked to see his dream realized.
Renee Powell, a member of the LPGA and an entrepreneur, gave the keynote address. She currently operates Clearview Golf Course, the first African-American owned golf course in the United States. She was honored to receive the prestigious First Lady of Golf Award from the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. She currently works with inner-city youth in Cleveland, started the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf Club in Canton and remains involved in the USGA Junior Girls Association.
Although members of the audience might have assumed Powell would speak on the topic of golf, she instead chose to tell about the work of Dr. King, the obstacles he faced in his time and how we must continue to passionately work towards his vision of ending poverty.
Powell began by placing the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the context of American history. She explained how the practice of indentured servanthood and the need for people to work the crops eventually led to the practice of slavery. Despite the work of Abraham Lincoln and the success of the Emancipation Proclamation, when Dr. King began his campaign of non-violence in the 1960s he faced the task of changing hundred of years of ingrained prejudice.
Powell reminded those present that, forty years after King's death, many of the issues King fought against still persist. Namely, Powell emphasized the problem of poverty, which is not only a problem in the United States but worldwide. Powell took her twenty-fifth trip to Africa this year, where she toured seventeen countries. While there she taught golf-clinics, but she also spent time learning about the problems that face developing countries in extreme poverty. Among the places she visited was Rwanda, where more than 1.3 million orphans live in poverty. Powell encouraged everyone to cease indifference toward the problem of poverty in developing countries and informed the audience that more than six billion people worldwide live in poverty.
"Why should we be concerned? Poverty affects all of us, we are a global community, and we can all work to fight poverty," said Powell. She ended her speech by encouraging everyone to do their part to fight the problem of poverty and share in the work the Dr. King began over forty years ago. She reminded us that King wanted to be remembered as a servant, someone who tried to love and tried to give.
Following Powell's speech, the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership and Diversity Awards were presented to those who exemplify the character and life of Dr. King. Judge Robert Lavery was presented with the community award. Dr. Ivory Lyons, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies and director of African-American studies was presented with the faculty award. Diversity awards were presented to Dr. Judith Jones, professor of psychology and Tiffani N. Tribble, assistant director of the Academic Support Center and resident director of Hoiles-Peterson Residence Hall. Rachel Camargo, a junior psychology major received the student award for her work with the Hispanic Food Festival and Hispanic Heritage Month and encouraging cultural awareness and diversity on campus. Also honored was Camargo’s sister, Rosana, a freshman psychology major.