The 45th Annual MLK Awards celebrated community leaders virtually

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MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — The Bloomington & Normal Human Relations Commissions held the 45th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program on Saturday morning.

The event was virtual due to COVID-19, and can be watched here.

Nikita Wilson, City of Bloomington Community Relations Manager, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the virtual luncheon. A moment of silence for Barbara Adkins, the first African-American Deputy City Manager of Bloomington, who died in 2020, was held at the beginning.

The event featured three speakers: Camille Taylor, Co-Chair of the Not In Our Town steering Committee; Dr. Doris Houston, Assistant to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at Illinois State University; and Dr. Brandon Caffey, Assistant Principal of Normal West High School.

The speakers focused on MLK’s six principles of non-violence and reflected on the events of 2020.

The event included special performances from Gregory D. Hicks, who performed “The Mountain Top,” and Aniya Thompson, who sang “Stand Up.”

The City of Bloomington awarded its 2021 Youth Award to Aditi Sharma.

“I never would have dreamt of being in the position that I am now,” Sharma said at the virtual event. “Leading ‘Not in Our School’ and building the Inclusive Education Coalition from scratch has taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, collaboration, and integrity. I aspire to continue living up to these values, which align with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The 2021 Adult Award went to Don Shandrow.

The Town of Normal had two youth awardees: Jasmyn Jordan and Yvin Shin. Their adult awardee is Dr. Kristal Shelvin.

“It is my pleasure to serve the communities that welcome me with open arms,” Shelvin said.

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