Five New Orleans leaders are the recipients of this year’s Martin Luther King Jazz Awards handed out at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. The founder of the Project Prodigy music program, Joe Saulsbury, is honored separately for his work. The honorees at the 4th annual event represent a wide variety of professions.
The awards honored leaders in education, business, political analysis, social outreach and the arts. Ronald Markham is president and chief executive officer of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. He says nominations come directly from groups and individuals. Winners must exemplify the spirit and passion of Dr. King.
“This is actually more about New Orleans celebrating what’s great about itself. We all celebrate Dr. King. It comes around in January and kids have a day off from school and so we reflect on what Dr. King represented. But this is actually less about championing what’s traditionally championed during Dr. King’s holiday, and it’s really more about stopping to embrace and celebrate what’s wonderful about New Orleans and the people that are from this city.”
One of the recipients is Bob Brown, managing director of the Business Council of New Orleans. He works at promoting all aspects of New Orleans life to attract and nourish talent.
“They tie citizens like me to one of the most important aspects of what makes New Orleans special and wonderful. That’s part of it. Also, I am so delighted that I’m in the company of five other people who give of themselves in a way that if I reflect the values of Dr. King in the same way that these five do I can believe that perhaps, perhaps, I may be worthy.”
The other recipients are Rafael Delgadillo of Puentes New Orleans; Sharon Clarke, director of the Sophie B. Wright Charter School; Clarke Peters, actor, musician and activist, and Dr. Silas Lee, pollster and research strategist.