January is a month reserved for the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy established by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is also a time for the Kingsley Association, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Port Authority of Allegheny County and now the New Pittsburgh Courier, to pay homage to two individuals who, like King, shared a spirit of dedication and perseverance throughout their life to achieve freedom and equality.
On Jan. 13 at the 2010 Spirit of King Award ceremony at the Kingsley Center, the late Byrd R. Brown, Esq., and late Malvin R. Goode, will join the long list of heroic men and women who have been honored for their impacts made not only in Pittsburgh, but the Black community as a whole.
“The Spirit of King Award celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and honors those who have carried his legacy throughout their lives,” said Eric Wells, assistant director, Employee Relations/OEO department of Port Authority.
The tribute began in 1986 with a tree planting ceremony and a plaque placed near the East Liberty station of the Port Authority Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway and in 1989 the “Spirit of King Award” was established and a plaque was given to Wilhelmina Byrd Brown, the first recipient. It was in 1990 when a new plaque was dedicated and since then continues to be re-dedicated with the inclusion of all the names of the award recipients. Other honorees to have received the award include Robert L. Vann, Florence Silberstein Reizenstein, Dr. Alma Johnson Illery, Bishop Charles H. Foggie and a list of many other esteemed individuals. There are more than 30 names on the plaque.
“This is an opportunity for us to recognize individuals who have impacted the region and the community, but it also gives an opportunity to show appreciation for the sacrifices made in the past as a reminder for us to work together and continue the movement in the present, as well as the future,” said Chaz Kellum, Manager of Diversity Initiatives for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wells said the Spirit of King Award committee selected Brown and Goode because they were thought to be the most deserving of the award.
Brown, who will join his mother Wilhelmina Byrd Brown on the list of those honored, is best known for his legal and civic work, his work resulting in the creation of training programs for African-Americans so that they could gain admission into trade unions and his long running terms as president of the Pittsburgh Branch of the NAACP.
Goode is known for becoming the first African-American to be hired as a news reporter at ABC-TV News. Along with his work, he also found time to mentor to African-American youth and inspire some of today’s greatest journalists.
Wells said he hopes that those who attend the celebration use this as an opportunity to become more familiar with the honorees and the work they’ve done.
The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Kingsley Center, 6435 Frankstown Ave., East Liberty. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the ceremony, call 412-661-8751.