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The Justice For Peace Award

The Martin Luther King Celebration Committee seeks to recognize citizens and/or an organization of our community who have gone beyond their regular duties to:

  • build awareness,
  • speak on behalf of justice,
  • celebrate diversity and
  • impel, foster and promote actions toward building a better future for all.

The Justice for Peace Award was established by the late Reverend Arthur Foy of the St. Mark AME church and is presented each year at one of the annual MLK Celebrations.

Click here to nominate someone.

2011 Recipients

Individual - Khalil "Haji" Dokanchi

The Drum Major for Peace Award for an individual this year goes to Dr. Khalil "Haji" Dokhanchi, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Haji had a record number of nominations - it seems half of the UWS campus was in on this - but the number really speaks to how many lives he has touched with his work.

Many of the nominations spoke of his working with students in programs like Model United Nations and Amnesty International, or by taking students on international trips - with these efforts helping students to understand what it means to work for peace in justice in places like Bosnia, Sudan, and other places around the world.

Haji also very much supports the work of justice here in the United States, serving as a big support for the TRIO program which works with low-income and first generation students.

His contributions to the work of justice and peace is more than we would have time to share. But we want to include some quotes from some of the people who nominated him.

“Haji is an amazing person.  He takes on an enormous work load and somehow manages to get things done while retaining the smile, cheerful outlook, and passion for just peace that we all know are somehow close to the core of who Haji is.”

“As a true activist for Peace, you can always see Haji planning a new action: the Hunger Banquet whose benefits go to Oxfam, his refugee exhibition, his landmine exhibition, his pledge to end genocide, etc. .. I admire and look up to Haji, his integrity, and the life he is dedicating towards fighting for justice to make the world a better place for all.”

“Haji is one of the most caring, intelligent, giving, selfless people that I have ever met.  He ALWAYS thinks of others before himself. Martin Luther King, Jr. will smile upon us all, from heaven, when you acknowledge Haji with this award.  I don’t know of anyone more deserving. “

“His dedication and love for students consistently put him above the rest. The Upward Bound students would say that Haji makes them feel welcomed, worthwhile and lightens the stress of a college atmosphere. “

“I will never forget and I still quote a line from his speech [to the TRIO program] when talking with students and their families.  He said:  “You don’t need to change the world, but you need to do YOUR PART.”  I believe he empowers and encourages us all toward action!”

In that spirit of action, the MLK Holiday Committee is pleased to recognize Haji Dokanchi.

Organizational Award - The Duluth Grill

The Duluth Grill is a leader in Duluth's business community for living out the vision of Dr. King.  First of all, it is a wonderful gathering place for community sharing a meal.  As a Christian pastor, Dr. King was well-aware of the importance in the Bible about sharing food with one another in building community.  And the Duluth Grill is a great place to do just that.

The Duluth Grill has also been a strong supporter of the African-American Men's Group and the MLK Holiday Community Breakfast. (For those of you at the breakfast this morning, you know what I mean.)  Additionally, the Duluth Grill has worked at hiring a diverse staff - providing economic opportunities for many in our community - and being an important economic stronghold in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

In addition, the Duluth Grill is committed to being a sustainable business - caring for the environment as it does the work of being a successful business.  It is an early adopter of the Twin Ports Sustainability initiative.  

It also provides a unique and diverse menu that serves a wide variety of palates.  Lovely breakfasts, Bison burgers, gluten-free options, vegetarian choices... you'll find it all there.

All of this together demonstrates a unique commitment to building a community that carries on the legacy of Dr. King.  As members of this community, the MLK Holiday committee is grateful for their presence and leadership on all of these issues. (And did we mention the food is really good, too?)

Youth Award - East High School Executive Board

After the incident last spring at UMD with blatant racism displayed through a Facebook post, the Executive Board at East High School took a hard and honest look at their own school community. They realized that their own school was allowing racist and intolerant comments and actions to exist in our halls and at our events.  To deal with this, they sponsored a East for Peace day, which is a program that will continue second semester.  Students shared experiences of racism so the school could start to address the kinds of "real" racism that they had there.  Students were asked to sign a pledge for tolerance and then to wear red ribbons for one day to signify their commitment to being aware of the issues among the student body and the issues faced.

The board is continuing this commitment in this next semester and planning to continue the East for Peace campaign with training and awareness - with a continuing focus on racism, bullying, and discrimination within their school.

Because of their commitment to work together to make a difference, the MLK Holiday Committee is pleased to present the “Drum Major for Peace” youth award to the Executive Board at East High School.

NAACP Community Service Awards

Mary Cameron

Janet Haynes