By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
Dozens of Commerce civic, religious, and educational leaders, as well as local residents, filled the sanctuary of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Commerce on Jan. 20 for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Ceremony.
Jerry Speight and Ivory Moore received the MLK Lifetime Achievement Award, and Jalinna Jones was named MLK Citizen of the Year. Texas A&M University-Commerce head basketball coach Sam Walker was awarded the MLK Man of the Year shortly after he set a university record for basketball wins.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Rick Balkin, an associate professor in the department of counseling and educational psychology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, spoke on his own experience with racially-motivated violence growing up in a Jewish family in Little Rock, Ark. He addressed his concern with the way race is connected with school test scores in Texas and spoke out against entrance requirements in graduate schools that discriminate against minorities.
Local elected officials present at the ceremony included Dr. John Balloti, mayor of Commerce and Commerce City Councilmember Emma Martin. Dr. Dan Jones, president of A&M-Commerce, was also in attendance.