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A Message for All Seasons
With awards, music, and the unwavering testimony of the woman who knew Martin Luther King Jr. best, Hopkins pauses to reflect on the life of the civil rights leader.


Two decades ago, Coretta Scott King helped Levi Watkins launch Hopkins' annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. "With her presence as the keynote speaker in 1983," says the professor of cardiac surgery and School of Medicine associate dean for post-doctoral programs, "it really took off." Pictured during the event's second year, the two have known each other since Watkins was 10, when he first heard Martin Luther King Jr. preach at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montomery, Ala.
The assassin did silence the dreamer. But Coretta Scott King has refused to let the bullet take down The Dream. Left with four children to raise, King could have retreated into her own grief. Instead, within days of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death in April 1968, she took his place at the head of a march on behalf of sanitation workers in Memphis. Later that month, she kept his speaking engagement at an anti-war rally in New York; in May, she helped launch the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. And 33 years later, Coretta King -- internationally recognized organizer, demonstrator, advisor, mentor -- reminded a packed audience in Turner Auditorium that her husband's belief in nonviolent social change has lost none of its relevance.

The Jan. 11 event was the second time King has stepped up to the microphone at Hopkins' yearly tribute to the man who gave his life championing civil rights. "No one could bring his message to us better," says cardiac surgery professor Levi Watkins, who inaugurated the commemoration in 1982 to honor and articulate Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of love, activism and community.

To those who say, Why keep bringing up the past? Things are different now, Watkins replies, "After the trauma of Sept. 11, some Americans went out and killed Arab-Americans-because of the way they looked. The issue of race is still alive-and that's what this program is meant to address.

"Yes, we have to take the past in perspective, but it's something I don't like to forget," continues the first African-American to enter and graduate from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, the first black chief resident in cardiac surgery at Hopkins, the first surgeon to implant an automatic defibrillator in a human heart. "I am grateful and indebted to that whole [civil rights] movement, to all those people who took on the status quo."

-Mary Ann Ayd


Eight people received special acclaim at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. Coretta Scott King accepted the Martin Luther King Jr. Ideals Award, and the following employees, who volunteered considerable time during 2001 on behalf of others, received Hopkins' annual Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service.

Clarence Booker Jr.
Counselor, Department of Psychiatry First Step Day Hospital
Clarence Booker Jr. has a long and diverse history of community service. He mentors adolescents suffering from substance abuse and low self-esteem, organizes a regular clothing drive for Hopkins patients, serves as a deacon in his church, where he has a sick and shut-in ministry, and reads and shops for sick or lonely senior citizens. Two years ago, Booker heard of a family whose East Baltimore rowhouse had been destroyed by fire. Booker and his wife gave the family a bedroom set. "The people had young children," he told a friend. "And it was cold."
Linda Dunn
Patient Information Coordinator, Community Psychiatry Program, Hopkins Hospital

For more than 30 years, Linda Dunn's work has benefitted the mentally ill. Dunn spends all year collecting personal-care items for "care packages" for more than 60 patients, which she distributes each Christmas. Her greatest gift, one co-worker said, is "the respect and friendship" she gives to her "family" of chronically mentally ill, who spend much of their lives marginalized by society.

Christine Gilliard
Infant Teacher, Martin Luther King Jr. Head Start at Park Avenue
Christine Gilliard's community service begins at home. Collaborating with her husband, who is pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, she works with the Assistance for Youth Academic Counseling Program, as a bible-schoolteacher and youth counselor, and as director of the youth choir. As a result of her master's thesis research on the dropout rate of teen mothers in East Baltimore, Gilliard has begun mentoring young women, and in 2000, she helped a teen mother obtain housing, maintain proper health for herself and her children, and continue her education.

Kay Glisan
Facilities Services Manager, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine
For the last two years, Kay Glisan has organized and run the Hopkins contribution to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, inspiring volunteers and participants with her dedication and enthusiasm. She has helped the JDRF Walk raise nearly $90,000, earning Johns Hopkins Medicine a national fund-raising award and moving scientists closer to finding a cure for her daughter and 16 million other Americans with diabetes.
Loretta I. Hoepfner
Administrative Assistant/Supervisor, Division of General Internal Medicine, School of Medicine
Loretta Hoepfner's dedication to community service has benefitted many organizations, including the American Lung Association of Maryland and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In addition to leadership roles in both organizations, she also enjoys working "in the trenches." In the summer of 2000, she took a week of her vacation to fly to Ohio to provide medical (and mechanical) support during the ALA's Big Ride Across America bike tour.
Gary Novak
Research Associate, Oncology Center Services Division, School of Medicine
Gary Novak has been the catalyst and coordinator of the Dunbar Student Program, providing intensive, laboratory-based experiencesfor up to eight Paul Laurence Dunbar Community High School students each year. Arranging for these students to work as part of a team in designated cancer research laboratories with some of the best-known cancer researchers in the world, Novak hopes that one day they'll head labs of their own.

Chirag B. Patel
Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
A native of Spring, Texas, Chirag Patel arrived in Baltimore as an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins and immediately volunteered with the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program at Greater Homewood, teaching classes and tutoring students one-on-one. In the summer of 2000, he mobilized more than 600 freshmen for 27 service projects throughout Baltimore City, picking up many of the donations and delivering them to the sites himself.
 
 

 

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