Lowcountry residents who model King’s dream honored

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard (left) started the Martin Luther King Jr. Picture Awards 15 years ago. He and City Councilman James Lewis (second from left) honored this year’s recipients Wednesday night in the Burke High School Auditorium. Standing with their posters of King are award winners (from left) Martha Miller, Carrie Whipper, Jordan Lancaster, Diana Salazar, Sam Price, the Rev. Rob Dewey, the Rev. William Swinton Jr., Dean Riegel, Walter Wong, Martha Lou Gadsden, Capt. Dale Middleton, Pam Freeman, Kim Greene and the Rev. Lawrence Brantton. Buy this photo

As Americans pause to remember the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., 14 local residents were honored for their community contributions Wednesday.

They were recipients of the 15th annual MLK Picture Awards. Several hundred people were there to cheer them in the Burke High School Auditorium.

The recipients, listed in order of the video that introduced them:

Kim Greene, for her work with the S.C. Black Caucus, helping homeless veterans and trying to stop gang violence.

The Rev. Rob Dewey, for his years of service with the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, which comforts victims and emergency responders.

Diana Salazar, Latina community activist working for immigrants.

Martha Lou Gadsden, nationally recognized chef and longtime owner of Martha Lou’s Kitchen.

Pam Freeman, for her years of community service through her church.

Walter Wong, restaurant owner, for often helping people pay rent and find jobs.

Dean Riegel, Charleston City Council mayor pro tem, for his service to the community

Carrie Whipper, wife of S.C. Rep. Seth Whipper, for her energetic service.

Martha E. Miller, for her efforts in early education for rural children.

Capt. Dale Middleton, for his service on the Charleston police force.

The Rev. Lawrence Bratton, for his work with the Lowcountry Civic Justice Corps, which provides jobs for ex-offenders.

Sam Price, for providing athletic activities for boys and teaching Sunday school.

The Rev. William Swinton, for his many years of service as pastor of Ebenezer AME Church.

Jordan Lancaster, an outstanding student at Burke High School, National Honor Society treasurer and French Club president.

Each of them received a framed poster of King, as well as recognition as role models for the community.

The Rev. Edward McClain of Calvary AME Church called them “those who continue to dream ... who continue to climb mountains in our community.”

The Rev. Robert Capers of Salem Presbyterian Church said they were examples of our calling to “be the best of whatever you are.”

Anita Zucker, an educator who is chief executive officer of the Intertech Group, gave the keynote address. She reminded the audience that more than 30 rabbis marched with King from Selma to Montgomery. King’s ties with the Jewish community are an example of how various groups can work together for a greater good, she said.

“We as individuals must learn to have respect for our differences while recognizing how much we all have in common as human beings,” she said.

The Charleston Development Academy Charter School Choir, The Citadel Gospel Choir and saxophonist Devone Gary kept the crowd enthusiastic and clapping.

State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, who represents downtown Charleston, started the MLK Picture Awards when he was a City Council member.

“These are the unsung heroes and heroines in our community,” Gilliard said in remarks in the program. “We should pause, take note and be thankful for them.”

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.

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