University Community

Ohio University Southern celebrates Dr. King's Legacy with MLK Legacy Awards

In honoring the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ohio University Southern's Council on Diversity and Inclusion hosted the MLK Legacy Awards ceremony on Jan. 30. This annual event recognizes individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations that embody the ideals championed by Dr. King, promoting equality, justice and unity in the community.

The Legacy Awards are divided into four distinct categories, each highlight outstanding contributions to the community.

Stacy Murray-Medcalf
Stacy Murray-Medcalf

The Beloved Community Service Award celebrates individuals and organizations making significant contributions to the community through compassionate programs and activities. Stacy Murray-Medcalf is this year’s recipient.

"Dr. King taught us that the value of a person is not dependent on the color of their skin or their religion or their gender. That we all have purpose, we all have an opportunity to spread love and hope and be mindful and considerate of one another," said Murray-Medcalf.

Her journey began with personal challenges, but evolved into the creation of The Cause, Inc., a non-profit organization promoting health resource awareness. Despite battling breast cancer, Murray-Medcalf and her husband founded this organization to provide free resources to the community through health fairs, awareness events and patient recognition services.

"I just think that we as a people need to be more in tune with promoting oneness all across the world. Oneness not only here in America, in Lawrence County, in Ohio, but just promote oneness and look at how much better our societies will be when we consider others as well as ourselves," she said.

Darrell Smith
Darrell Smith

The "Drum Major" Award acknowledges those committed to equity and inclusion efforts, promoting policies, programs or initiatives for equal opportunity and success.

"Dr. King was about nonviolence and protest, and his methods, I believe, were the teachings of Gandhi. I remind myself, I relate to Dr. King because I was raised to care for people and to do the right thing as," said Darrell Smith, this year’s award winner.

Smith co-founded the C.B. Nuckolls Community Center and Black History Museum in Ashland, Kentucky, which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating local Black history. His advocacy for teaching Black history is evident through exhibits, community engagement and donations to the Highlands Museum and Discovery Center.

"Dr. King taught us to love, not hate. And that definitely strengthens the community," Smith said.


Amanda Cleary
Amanda Cleary

The Alumni Humanitarian Award goes to an Ohio University Southern graduate demonstrating a spirit of volunteerism and community service. Amanda Cleary, this year’s recipient, founded Third and Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a positive impact in the community through art and collaboration with local organizations.

"Dr. King's message is one that I hope continues throughout the entirety of our human existence – because his message was of peace and equality, and looking at people for who they are, as opposed to what you see visually," said Cleary. "My inspiration to continue Dr. King's work comes from my love of humans. I love the ability for a group of people to come together and for their uniqueness to be able to shine," said Cleary.


Olivia Brooke Kingrey
Olivia Brooke Kingrey

The Dr. Charles Jarrett Emerging Leader Award honors an Ohio University Southern undergraduate or secondary high school student for their commitment to positive change in their campus, school district or community. This year’s awardee is Olivia Brooke Kingrey, a proactive senior at Dawson-Bryant High School, who emphasized the importance of standing firm in beliefs and understanding the relevance of Dr. King's words today.

"The work of Dr. King has moved me in many ways,” said Kingrey. “Specifically, a segment about the white moderate and his letter from Birmingham Jail. Dr. King states, 'Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.'"

Kingrey’s commitment to mental health awareness, community service and promoting positive lifestyles led to her nomination.

"I am inspired to continue Dr. King's work because we are still in need of strong leaders like him. He inspires me to be a better person who fights for equality, peace and love in America," she said.

MLK Writing Contest winners

Also honored at the event were the winners of the MLK Writing Contest. Tri-State area students in grades 6 through 12 were invited to write a poem or short essay inspired by quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Madilyn Smith, Jazzmyn Bowling and Owen Frederick, all of South Point High School, were the winners of the high school contest.

Writings from Amelia Hall of Fairland Middle School and Sierra Johnson and Samantha Riedel of Ironton Middle School were selected as the winners of the middle school contest.

As the MLK Legacy Awards Ceremony highlighted, these exceptional individuals and organizations stand as living testaments to Dr. King's enduring impact. Through their actions, the honorees inspire positive change for a more inclusive future.

Robert Pleasant, director of student services at Ohio University Southern, expressed the significance of the Legacy Awards in recognizing those who embody Dr. King's dream for equality, justice and unity. He emphasized the ongoing journey towards a more just and equitable society.

“Because of Ohio University Southern’s role in the community, serving as an educational and cultural leader, we proudly support and sponsor this event, further emphasizing our dedication to fostering positive change and creating a welcoming community for all people,” he said.

January 30, 2024
Staff reports