Award-winning television journalist Liz Walker to deliver MLK keynote address Jan. 29 -- LIVE WEB STREAM AVAILABLE

Pastor Curtis Dias and People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE) to be honored as "drum majors for justice"

UPDATE: Because this event is now sold out, a live web stream of the event will be available at umassd.edu. Also an open forum with Liz Walker will be held following the breakfast, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Claire T. Carney Library Browsing Area.

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Curtis D. Dias, Senior Pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Church in East Freetown and People Acting in Community Service Endeavors, Inc. (PACE) will be honored January 29 at the annual UMass Dartmouth Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast and Drum Major Awards ceremony. Award-winning television journalist Liz Walker will be this year's keynote speaker. 

Drum Major Award winners are selected for demonstrating a commitment to answering Dr. King's call for citizens to become "drum majors for justice" in a famous speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on February 4, 1968.

"Martin Luther King Jr. believed that all persons, given the opportunity, can overcome less than ideal circumstances to live productive, meaningful lives,'' UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "As Dr. King demonstrated, a truly meaningful life involves service to others who seek opportunities to change their lives for the better. This year's honorees reflect that message. We thank them for the opportunities they have made available to so many others."

The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodland Commons on the university campus. Tickets are $15 for the public, UMass faculty and staff, and $5 for students. A Corporate/Organization table of 8 can be reserved for $120. Seating is limited, to purchase tickets, please contact Marly Dulude at 508.999.8008 or mdulude@umassd.edu.

Pastor Dias  has been serving in full-time ministry as the Senior Pastor of Calvary Pentecostal Church for the past 15 years. He has provided numerous community service hours to prison ministry; local shelters, coffee houses, and rescue missions such as the Salvation Army, helping homeless populations, substance abusers, as well as HIV and AIDS victims. He has worked with Head Start programs, local and private schools, and self-help groups as a fundraiser, preacher, and teacher throughout Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Jersey, and abroad.

Under his leadership Calvary Pentecostal Church has sponsored community outreach programs such as weekly ministry for young people at the Department of Youth Services in Taunton and meals for the elderly, and he serves as a community mentor for the prison re-entry program at the Dartmouth House of Correction. He co-founded and was president of the Concerned Citizens of Freetown, an award-winning environmental justice organization that has fought and won legal battles for minority residents who bore the brunt of industrial environmental pollutants in their low-income neighborhoods. He looks forward to working with the City of New Bedford which is involved in a massive cleanup of PCB contamination in an area known as the Parker Street Waste Site. 

People Acting in Community Endeavors, Inc. was founded for the purpose of operating efficient, high-quality programs to improve the lives of the poor. Among the activities of PACE: working to make fuel assistance, weatherization, and Head Start programs more efficient at the local level; partnering with legal service organizations to protect citizns from having their heat shut off; expansion of affordable housing; establishment of the largest food cooperative in New England; and the establishment of YouthBuild New Bedford, which provides at-risk young adults skills to build affordable housing. PACE has also played a leadership role in public health issues such as HIV/AIDS and was a key supporter of the oral health initiative which led to the fluoridation of water in New Bedford and the opening of a dental sealant clinic. 
In 2003 PACE focused energy in financial and educational areas, establishing a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Earned Income Tax Credit and financial literacy programs. In collaboration with the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and UMass Dartmouth, PACE offered the first of the Clemente Course in the Humanities to provide free college level courses in the humanities to low-income community members.

Liz Walker, keynote speaker for the event, spent 20 years anchoring WBZ television , and is now a documentary film producer, an entrepreneur and a humanitarian working in the war-torn country of Sudan.  A 2005 graduate of Harvard Divinity School and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she has chosen to combine her communication skills with her passion for serving the world. 

In the summer of 2001, she traveled to Sudan on a fact-finding mission on the controversial slave trade. She was so outraged by the human rights atrocities in Sudan and co-founded My Sister's Keeper, a grass roots initiative that advocates for women and children who are trying to rebuild their country and their lives.  She returns to Sudan often, including the region of Darfur, the scene of the 21st century's first genocide. My Sister's Keeper has most recently completed the construction of a Girls' School for more than 500 girls in southern Sudan.

 



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