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Heritage Council announces winners of 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Awards during virtual ceremony

The Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission has announced winners of the 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Awards, including Leadership Awards to Edward Earl Taylor of Campbellsville and youth recipient Ricky Edwards of Louisville. Winners were announced via video this morning on the annual holiday celebrating Dr. King’s life and legacy.

The commission is administratively attached to the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office, awards co-sponsor along with the Kentucky Historical Society. The video was introduced by acting commission chair Kevin Russell of Radcliff with an invocation by member Wanda Washington of Campbellsville, followed by a greeting from Gov. Andy Beshear.

“I am so honored to be joining you virtually today for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards recognizing community leaders for their service and dedication to building a more just, equal, and a better world for all. In my opinion this recognition is one of the highest honors one can receive as it carries the name of one of our greatest leaders and activists,” said Gov. Beshear. “You are doing the groundwork to make real, impactful change… building on the progress Dr. King made in helping to create a better world for all our people.”

KET public affairs, managing producer and host Renee Shaw was the keynote speaker, framing recent events in our state and nation’s history with her personal journey and challenging others to consider “what is 2021 calling on us to do?”

“It’s heartening to learn of the poetry and art submissions of students across this Commonwealth answering the question of how this civil rights icon would inspire the nation if he were alive today,” she said. “Many of us wrestle with that question now more than ever.

An Army veteran, Taylor was recognized for dedicating his life to living by Dr. King’s principles as a community leader. He is an associate member of the Taylor County Civic League involved in the group’s annual MLK celebrations and meal distribution for families in need​. He is vice president of the Historic Durham School Reunion Committee, supports the local H.O.P.E. Project that provides housing and other services for those in need, mentors and instructs minority youth in basketball and golf​, and is an active member at First Baptist Church of Campbellsville, where he directs the men’s choir.

Edwards was recognized for starting Project Crescendo and inspiring change in the Louisville community. Project Crescendo pairs underprivileged middle school students who are interested in music lessons with high school students who are distinguished in music performance. He and Taylor received commemorative plaques from the commission.

Student awards encourage youth to express themselves creatively through essays, visual art and poetry. The following winners will receive a certificate signed by the Governor:

Student Art Contest, Elementary School

First place David Lawless, 4th grade, Johnsontown Road Elementary School​; second D’zandrae Hartley​, 4th grade, Northern Elementary​ School; third Sebastian Barnett, 4th grade, Elkhorn Elementary School

Middle school

First place Donyale Artis​, 8th grade, Holmes Middle School​; second Abigail Morgan​, 7th grade, Larue County Middle School​; third Sophia Maresca​, 7th grade, Oldham County Middle School​

High School

First place Riley Gordon​, 11th grade, Frankfort High School​; second Aspen Reynolds, 9th grade, Western Hills High School​

Student Poetry Contest, Middle School

First place Mirabel Tsetse, 6th grade, Campbell County Middle School​

High School

First place Jinniah Ali​ and second Hanna Wright, both 11th grade, Frankfort High School

Student Essay, Elementary School

First place Kiana Mack​, 4th grade, Mary Todd Elementary School

Middle School

First place Erica Wurth​, 8th grade, Paducah Middle School​; second and third, Maggie McDonald​ and Cecily Smith​, both 8th grade, Capital Day School​

High School

First place Ainsley Beaven​, 11th grade, Union County High School​; second and third, Lucy Cunningham​, 10th grade and Diamond Moore​, 11th grade, Frankfort High School​

For photos of award winners and images of student submissions, visit www.heritage.ky.gov.

From Kentucky Heritage Council

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