|Keynote speaker Dr.
Judith Jackson May speaks to audience members during the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute at
the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green. (Photos: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
As a child, Dr. Judy Jackson May was told that because of the color of her skin, she was different.
She was told she wouldn’t go far in life.
Years later, she proved those people wrong.
"I was called the ‘n-word’ in high school," May said. "That girl they called names would
grow up to earn a PhD."
In her keynote speech "Inspiring the Dream in a Beloved Community," May shared her story with
community members at the 25th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute.
Over 100 people came together Friday at the Wood County District Public Library to remember the dream
King shared with a nation 50 years ago, and to celebrate how they’re still living it today.
"Martin Luther King Jr. was our model for what it means to respect diversity," said Margaret
Montague, member of the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission that helped sponsor the event.
"It’s a good time for all of us to pause and reflect about how we’re progressing."
BGSU’s Chief Equity and Diversity Officer and event speaker Barbara Waddell paused and reflected on one
new campaign that’s living up to King’s dream.
"What we hear in the news media is a focus on hate and crime. ‘Not In Our Town’ focuses on the
positive actions of a group of people confronting hate in a positive way," Waddell said. "We
don’t stand for what we’re against – we stand for what we’re for."
The campaign focuses on turning bystanders of racist behavior into people who will stop it.
Waddell urged audience members to take the pledge to combat racism and live King’s dream.
Miller (left), wife of the late Dave Miller, and daughter Jessica
Miller Blakely (middle) receive the Drum Major for Peace Award in Mr.
Miller’s absence from Reverand Mary Jane Saunders (right) during the
25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute.
Gordon, husband of the late Joan Gordon, speaks to audience members
near daughter Melissa Gordon Johnson after he and family members
received the Drum Major for Peace Award in Mrs. Gordon’s absence during
the 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute.
"Martin Luther King Jr. said to never, ever be afraid to do what’s right," Waddell said.
"When you stand up for what’s right, you can literally save a soul."
The program posthumously honored two community members with the Drum Major for Peace Award.
The King-inspired honor was awarded to David Miller, former editor of the Sentinel-Tribune, and Joan
Gordon, former executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce.
"(Miller) was the voice of the voiceless," said Jan Larson McLaughlin, editor of the
Sentinel-Tribune. "He knew good journalism did more than just inform and entertain."
Miller not only covered his community journalistically, but helped it by being involved with Wood Lane,
the Cocoon Shelter and many other organizations.
"He really made a difference," McLaughlin said.
Miller’s family accepted the award on his behalf.
Just like Miller, Gordon had a thirst for making Bowling Green a better place.
"Joan was the Bowling Green poster child," said Dr. Barbara Keller, Human Relations Commission
member. "She’ll be remembered for her commitment, involvement, dependability and results."
Gordon, "a significant role model and friend," was involved in the League of Women Voters, the
Bowling Green Women’s Club, Kiwanis and served on the Wood County Hospital Board.
"She was not only an amazing leader, but a supportive board member," Keller said. "I could
go on and on about Joan and what she did for this community."
Gordon’s family accepted the award on her behalf.
Community members like Miller and Gordon are what make "townie" May proud of where she comes
As a member of the first black family to settle and stay in Bowling Green back in the 1950s, May
concluded her keynote speech with a challenge for all her fellow dreamers.
"Dr. King said ‘we still have unfinished business’ and that’s true. We can’t truly be free until
everyone is free," May said. "We need equality for gays, lesbians, transgenders, the poor and
May credits her late mother, BGSU alumnus Dr. Faith Hill Jackson, for inspiring her to forget the bad
names and make a good name for herself.
"I was honored that she was there when I took my first breath, and that I was there when she took
her last," May said. "Even though we’re still facing the challenges of yesterday and today, we
still have a dream."