“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say
that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness… We all have the
drum major instinct.”
Excerpt from The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
"Drum Major Instinct" sermon,
given on February 4, 1968.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award for community service is based on nominees who selflessly perform daily acts of service to make their community—and our world— a better place. The award was created by the Great Lakes Bay Regional MLK Celebration event committee, and the honorees are selected from Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties.
The honoree from Bay County is Benton Gibson, a flight instructor and teacher who taught aviation sciences at Delta College before joining the Bay City School District where he taught for 26 years. After leaving the Bay City School District, Gibson continued to teach at Delta, where several of his students went on to become pilots working for major airlines and the US Air Force.
In 2002 Gibson was elected to the Bay City Public Schools Board where he was directly involved in the hiring of superintendent Carolyn Wierda, under whom the school district passed an $80 million bond to upgrade Bay City’s public schools and rid them of asbestos contamination.
The honoree from Midland County, Jeanne Lound Schaller, has worked as a coordinator for restorative practices in education through the Community Resolution Center, which has offices in Flint and Saginaw. Beginning in 2000, she co-initiated and chaired the Midland Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the Helen M. Casey Center for Nonviolence and the interfaith organization Choosing a Culture of Understanding.
Schaller currently heads the Midland chapter of Nonviolent Peaceforce, an international NGO working to “transform the world’s response to conflict.” At age 68 she became a Rotary peace fellow and earned a professional development certificate in conflict resolution and peace in 2015 at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She is also an Honorary Rotarian with the Midland Noon Club and is involved with their youth committee.
Leola Wilson is the honoree from Saginaw County, and will soon retire from her tenure as president of the second-largest branch of the NAACP in Michigan. Wilson joined the NAACP 50 years ago and her commitment has led her to serve as area director of the organization’s Michigan state conference, as well as its state treasurer. Wilson has also received Michigan’s NAACP President of the Year Award.
Wilson’s activism and service in education and her community led to her appointment by former governor Jennifer Granholm to SVSU's Board of Control from 2005 to 2013. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award, Saginaw Valley State University’s most prestigious award for a community member. She remains involved as a member of the SVSU Diversity Council.
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