The Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network (NAN) on Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Day, Jan. 18, honored Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) with the Peace and Freedom Award.
UWI News said that Sir Hilary, who is also chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Commission and President of Universities Caribbean, received the award during a virtual ceremony.
He was recognized for his “global advocacy, academic scholarship and intellectual leadership in support of social justice, institutional equity and economic development for marginalized and oppressed ethnicities and nations,” UWI News said.
“Every year we have the National Action Network Dr Martin Luther King Awards, we look for someone who has personified in their own work, in their own life, the global fight for human rights and human dignity, particularly in the African Diaspora, and there’s no doubt about the fact that Sir Hilary has been one in that tradition — I would say unequalled in the present African Diaspora of those of us that are still among us,” said Rev. Sharpton in presenting the award to Sir Hilary.
NAN, founded and led by Rev. Sharpton, has celebrated MLK Day since 1991 with a breakfast in his honor in Washington, D.C.
The annual event commemorates Dr. King’s legacy and provides an opportunity to refocus on the work of carrying on his dream, UWI News said.
Sir Hilary said that, while growing up, his generation followed and was inspired by the works and teachings of Dr. King, and that he remains a “template” and guiding light in the global reparatory justice movement.
He acknowledged that Dr. King’s philosophies “framed his own views of the world.”
“I am humbled and honored to be considered in the context of the legacy of Dr. King,” said the UWI Vice Chancellor, who was among seven distinguished persons honored.
Other honorees included American physician, immunologist and director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr Anthony Fauci; seven-year old non-profit founder Cavanaugh Bell; chief executive officer for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Sindy Benavides; award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist and jazz singer, Latosha Brown; Stacey Abrams, Georgia political and voting rights activist, lawyer and author; and Dr. Millicent Gorham, executive director of the National Black Nurses Association, Inc.