Elaine Brown, a community activist, author and former leader of the Black Panther party delivered the keynote speech.
''This event celebrates individuals who have distinguished themselves as bridge builders. Our honorees have displayed courage, creativity, passion, and skill in service to humanity. They are examples for all of us'' said Chancellor Jean. F. MacCormack.
The awards were presented at the fourth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast at the Woodland Commons facility on the UMass Dartmouth main campus.
The name of the award is taken from a sermon Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on February 4, 1968 just two months before he was assassinated. The sermon included the following passage: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”
William Hogan was chosen as a 2006 drum major because he has shown a commitment to social justice and leadership as a former department chairperson of the economics department and as current dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Hogan was in the forefront in the development of an academic curriculum, in content and design, which was inclusive of various backgrounds and was instrumental in the hiring of several individuals of color within the economics department. Dr. Hogan, as a teacher and an administrator, has been committed to students and faculty of color and has personally worked with them as an advisor and a mentor. As dean, he has shown by example his commitment to equal educational and equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.
Jibreel Khazan, a counselor for Comprehensive Mental Health Systems in New Bedford, was chosen as a 2006 drum major because he is one of the original four individuals who took part in the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, sparking the freedom movement of the 1960’s. The courage of the “Greensboro 4” spread across the nation, leading to the passage of the Federal Civil Rights bills of 1960, 1964, and 1965, guaranteeing equal rights in all places of public accommodations, voting, employment, and equal protection under the law. In 1991, he received an honorary doctorate in humanities from North Carolina A & T. State University. He moved to New Bedford in 1965 where he lives with his wife, Mrs. Lorraine “Rainbow” George-Khazan. Jibreel and Lorraine are the proud parents of three adult children. Dr. Khazan continues to spread his message of peaceful co-existence among America’s many diverse cultures, and racial groups throughout the region as a lecturer.
John Sbrega was chosen as a 2006 drum major because he regards diversity as a top institutional priority and he has strengthened diversity at Bristol Community College through his leadership and a broad range of programs. Dr. Sbrega has been instrumental in supporting diversity initiatives such as faculty hiring, recruiting students of diverse cultures and languages, developing a resource directory that features individuals of diverse backgrounds working with the college, starting a community-based celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., engaging faculty and staff of color on a variety of events, and providing assistance to Massachusetts Migrant Education Program.
Elaine Brown wrote A Taste of Power, her memoir, and The Condemnation of Little B., a book about a 13-year-old boy Brown believes was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to live in prison. In 1996, after living six years in France, Brown moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she established the nonprofit education corporation Fields of Flowers to build a comprehensive model education center for black and other poor children. Brown is Executive Director of the Michael Lewis Legal Defense Committee, organized to support the legal appeal of Lewis (“Little B”). Brown is a co-founder and Board member of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform, an organization primarily composed of former prisoners and family members and friends of prisoners, the goals of which are to repeal the harsh criminal laws of the U.S., advocate for human rights for prisoners, and provide re-entry programs for former prisoners. The mother of one adult daughter, Brown grew up in the ghettos of North Philadelphia. Brown’s papers have been acquired by Emory University.
The Drum Major Award was created by the University to acknowledge the contributions of both campus and community leaders who work diligently to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.