SouthCoast education advocate and university community service leader to be honored at UMass Dartmouth MLK breakfast Jan. 28 at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodland Commons on the main campus.

Lee Blake and Deirdre Healy are 2011 'drum majors for justice." Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young to deliver keynote

SouthCoast Education Compact Director Lee Blake and UMass Dartmouth Director of Community Service and Partnerships Deidre Healy will be honored on  January 28 at the annual UMass Dartmouth Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast and Drum Major Awards ceremony. 

Civil Rights activist and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young 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. 

"Once again, we come together at a time of economic instability for our Commonwealth and nation," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "Dr. King believed, and challenged us all to pursue the noble idea, that all persons, given the opportunity, can overcome difficult circumstances to live productive, meaningful lives. We honor individuals who heeded Dr. King's call to be drum majors for justice, and we thank them for the opportunities they have made available to so many others." 

Lee Blake has made a career of working in education with youth and adults of diverse ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds for more than 30 years. She currently serves as director of the SouthCoast Education Compact, a university-school-business collaboration that brings together business leaders and school superintendents to create a unified voice in support of K-12 school reform in the 15 cities and towns surrounding the campus. 

Over the years, she has continued to advocate for equal access for people of color to education and government. She is a founding member of New Bedford ACTS which addresses issues of youth violence. As a board member of the New Bedford Historical Society for the past 10 years and now President, she has developed after school and summer camp programs, and middle school curricula that address New Bedford's history as an abolitionist stronghold and a major stop on the Underground Railroad. Throughout her career she has worked to connect people with the power of education as a force for social change and individual actualization. 

Deidre Healy has been a strong advocate of community service and service learning at UMass Dartmouth. She has stressed the concept that service and service learning bring people together to promote an ethic of inclusiveness and diversity. She works with a high proportion of diverse students and community members daily. She brought social capital benchmark project to the University last year as part of the first Civic Engagement summit.

She has been a catalyst in developing programs and initiatives that were previously nonexistent on the Dartmouth campus, and in the local community. Quite possibly the most important attribute that Deirdre Healy brings to the community is her ability to encourage others to become civically involved. Countless students remark on the difference she has made in their lives, and testify that they will continue to be civically engaged upon graduation. 

Ambassador Andrew Young, keynote speaker to the event, was a top companion to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement and now serves on the Board of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change. Young most notably served at the United States Ambassador to the United Nations during the Jimmy Carter administration. He encouraged African Americans to register to vote in Alabama, frequently facing death threats during the process. In 1964. 

Ambassador Young was named executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with whom he organized many peaceful protests. During this time, he also helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With this, Young became one of Dr. King's principle collaborators. In 1972, Young became Georgia's first African American congressman since Reconstruction. He was re-elected in 1974 and 1976. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter appointed Young the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He served as mayor of Atlanta from 1982 to 1990. 

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