2017 MLK Award winners announced
The 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Award winners were announced by the Bloomington and Normal Human Relations Commissions on Saturday, Jan. 14.
The winners were recognized at the 41st annual Martin Luther King Awards luncheon at Illinois State University Bone Student Center. The event featured broadcast journalism pioneer Monica Pearson. She anchored the evening news in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1975 -- the first minority and first woman to hold that position.
The Adult Human Relations Award went to Kevin Jones of Bloomington and Mary Aplington of Normal. The Youth "I Have a Dream" Award was presented to Anniah Watson of Bloomington and Sujith Molakala of Normal.
Jones and Aplington work with the Bloomington Schools. Jones' work at the Regional Alternative School in implementing restorative justice practices and conflict resolution. He also volunteers at Camp Take-A-Break, working with and supporting adoptive children who may lose their placements.
Aplington has been a counselor for 19 years. She helped coordinate the Back to School Alliance. The community alliance ensures that children have school supplies and support services. She serves on the "For A Better Tomorrow" board of directors; she also co-chairs the youth leadership program "Youth Global Citizen" (YGC).
Watson and Molakala are student leaders at Normal Community High School. They are deeply involved in school programs that benefit their fellow students.
Watson is the co-founder of "Book4U" which provides free college text books. She also volunteers for several organizations that address the effects of discrimination in the community.
Molakala led a recent effort to extend the Little Free Pantry to the high school and raise awareness of food insecurity in the community. He also volunteers for the McLean County Indian Association and at OSF Hospital.