Ceremony honors three GW students with MLK award

Three students who have exemplified the qualities of Dr. King were presented with public service awards in the Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre Thursday.

The winners of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award – seniors Barak Epstein, Ritu Kaur Singh and Eduardo Lara – were chosen from a pool of nine applicants for their devotion to community and multicultural work.

Eddie, Ritu, and Barak are not just dreamers, 1999 award recipient Jason Anthony said.

It’s good to have a dream, but it’s better to have a dream in action, said Grace Henry, a member of the selection committee and a counselor at GW’s Multicultural Student Center.

Honoring students devoted to multicultural work is important to recognize that the footprints of the man we celebrate are still being followed, Ishmael Renard Mitchell, a 1999 recipient, said.

GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who met with King in the 1960s, said a campuswide community bond during snow days last week was indicative of the longevity of King’s spirit.

There is great promise in the very best of our young people, Trachtenberg said.

Members of the Nu Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, an organization of which King was a member, put on a step performance with a King speech playing in the background. They also gave a saxophone performance of Precious Lord, Take My Hand, a song played at King’s funeral.

His dream will always be our dream, an Alpha Phi Alpha member said.

The Eastern High School Choir, a traditional part of the event, also performed. The group of about 40 singers began the event’s festivities.

This year’s recipients cited the choir’s performance as the event highlight.

Barak Epstein said the ceremony was surreal.

It makes you think of how much Dr. King did, he said. In comparison, you didn’t do that much at all.

Receiving the award made him feel validated and accepted, Epstein said.

The three students delivered speeches about how they attempted to emulate the life and work of King. The 10 staff, faculty and student members of the award selection committee looked for individuals who put the dream in action, Grace Henry said.

The ceremony finished with a final performance by the choir, in which the audience joined in the singing of Lift Every Voice and Sing.

The scheduled candlelight procession into the Quad was canceled because of weather conditions.

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