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Duluthians win Drum Major for Peace award

Twin Ports MLK Holiday Committee and Duluth NAACP Drum Major for Peace Award youth leader award recipients Jake Vainio and Shanita Foster smile when told by Henry Banks that both young adults will receive the awards. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)1 / 6
Past president and current NAACP board member Claudie Washington addresses the crowd at the 2017 MLK rally at the DECC. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 6
Jake Vainio performs a song at the Martin Luther King rally on Jan. 16 at the DECC. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)3 / 6
Members of dance group Majur Attraktion perform at the MLK rally on Jan. 16 at the DECC. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)4 / 6
New and returning officers of the NAACP are sworn in. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)5 / 6
Twin Ports MLK Holiday Committee and Duluth NAACP Drum Major for Peace Award nominees Ricky DeFoe, Princess Kisob and Terresa Hardaway share smiles and applause while waiting for the recipient to be announced. Not pictured, nominee Bridget Eckwood. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)6 / 6

Several Duluthians received recognition for their work at the 2017 Twin Ports Martin Luther King, Jr. rally on Jan. 16.

The Twin Ports MLK Holiday Committee and Duluth NAACP Drum Major for Peace Award recognizes citizens and organizations who have gone beyond their regular duties to build awareness, speak up for justice, celebrate diversity and work towards building a better future. The “Drum Major” refers to a speech King delivered in Atlanta two months before his 1968 assassination, in which he said:

"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. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

The Justice for Peace award was established by the late Rev. Arthur Foy of the St. Mark AME church and is presented every year at the MLK rally at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

“Each year the Drum Major for Peace awards are given out to people and organizations in our community who exemplify the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and for those who strive for equity, education, race relations, community services, peace and justice,” said presenter Henry Banks.

Two youth leader Drum Major awards were presented to Jake Vainio and Shanita Foster. Both young adults are accomplished musicians who have worked with the NAACP on the MLK rallies in the past. Vainio is an 18-year-old who graduated from Harbor City International High School in June of 2016. Foster is a senior at Duluth Denfeld High School.

Nominees for the individual award included Ricky DeFoe, Princess Awa-ada Kisob and Bridget Eckwood.

This year’s individual recipient was University of Minnesota assistant professor Terresa Hardaway. Hardaway started teaching graphic design in the UMD School of Fine Arts in August 2016. She is new to the community, but she began to immediately immerse herself in the area and got involved with the NAACP.

“Professor Hardaway stepped up to the plate without hesitation as the official graphic artist of the 2017 Twin Ports MLK planning committee,” Banks said. “She brought some much needed enthusiasm and got young people involved like never before. If you looked at the posters and the information we put out this year, it was very professionally done and it was because of Terresa’s hard work and dedication.”

At the ceremony, Hardaway chose not to speak, but shared comments in a phone interview with the Budgeteer.

“I was surprised because I just thought it was fun to be nominated. I honestly feel like I haven’t been here long enough to get that award,” Hardaway said. “I am glad I’m able to make an impact in such a way that people would want to recognize that. But even if I didn’t get that, I would continue to do this work.”

Hardaway is a self described “army brat” who was born in Panama City, but moved to several different places while growing up. Before moving to Duluth, she spent the most time in Dallas, Texas where she attended graduate school. She said the move from Dallas to Duluth resulted in a huge culture shock.

“Dallas is a huge melting pot where I had friends from so many different nationalities. In Duluth, you can go four or five days without seeing another person who looks like me. It’s really hard not to feel alienated unless you create a community and a space where you know you’re not alone,” Hardaway said.

A week after moving to Duluth, Hardaway attended her first NAACP meeting and threw herself into the organization’s work. She is currently working on setting up a student chapter at UMD.

“I hope other people feel inspired. I want people to see that a graphic designer can go into the community and do some good work. We tend to think of activists as someone who speaks in front of people, but whatever you are interested in, you can turn that around and make waves for social justice,” Hardaway said.

Three businesses were also nominated in the Drum Major for Peace award business/organization category: University of Wisconsin Superior Black Student Union, Wisconsin Public Radio Northwest, and the American Indian Community Housing Organization. Wisconsin Public Radio received the award for their dedication to providing programming for community voices.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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