Civil rights advocate Morris Dees to speak at Johns Hopkins' annual MLK Jr. commemoration event

Event honors King's legacy of nonviolent activism, service

Image caption: The 2015 Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award recipients. Seated: Margaret Strong, Theresa Barberi, Janine Coy, Adi Noiman, and Rochelle Mariano. Standing: Albert Chi, Harlisha Martin, and Nelson Moody.

Credit: Keith Weller

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and tolerance, will deliver the keynote address at Johns Hopkins' 33rd annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. The event will take place on Friday at noon in Turner Auditorium on the university's East Baltimore campus.

Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center

Image caption: Morris Dees

Begun in 1982, the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration honors the Nobel Peace Prize winner's legacy of nonviolent activism and community service. Past speakers include Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte Jr., Stevie Wonder, James Earl Jones, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King. Last year's speaker was Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and one of Time magazine's 2012 "Most Influential People in the World."

Dees, the son of Alabama cotton farmers who witnessed firsthand social and economic depravation and Jim Crow treatment of blacks, won controversial civil rights cases against organized hate groups and has established the Teaching Tolerance initiative, which aims to educate students and teachers about diversity, equal opportunity, and respect for differences in schools.

This year's event, titled "Tolerance in America: Its Beauty and Challenges," will feature a video tribute to Angelou, who died in May at 86, and the unveiling of the portrait of retired Johns Hopkins cardiac surgeon Levi Watkins Jr., a former associate dean for postdoctoral programs and the founder of the annual event.

Additionally, eight faculty and staff members and students representing Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and Johns Hopkins University will receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, which recognize outstanding commitment to volunteer community service and humanity in the spirit of Dr. King's life.

Speakers include Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University; Paul B. Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine; and Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. The event will be simulcast Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins HealthCare, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Suburban Hospital, at All Children's Hospital. For more information, visit

To watch the event online, go to The video team recommends that you test your connection to Mediasite prior to the event. Go to

The eight award recipients and the work for which they are being recognized are:

Theresa Barberi, a School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow, conducts outreach training and assists with awareness events as a volunteer with Safe House of Hope, a nonprofit that provides services to victims of human trafficking. Barberi also interacts directly with victims through street and Internet outreach, encouraging them to call and visit the organization's drop-in center for recovery services.

Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an assistant professor in the School of Medicine, devotes his time and money to leading medical professionals on annual health care mission trips to Haiti. He recently developed a low-cost 3D prosthetic printing lab, where he creates prosthetic limbs and gives them to children and other patients free of charge.

Janine Coy, a physician's assistant in the Emergency Department at Bayview Medical Center, chairs community cleanups in the neighborhood around Bayview. She also mentors, connects local residents with job information and community resources, and has coordinated tree and bulb plantings to beautify the Joseph Lee Park.

Rochelle Mariano, a registered nurse at Bayview Medical Center, has coordinated a Dress for Success initiative at a local church, providing women in shelters and halfway houses with business clothes. She also volunteers at a Hagerstown area food bank and distribution center for families in need.

Harlisha Martin, a home care coordinator assistant at Howard County General Hospital, organizes back-to-school drives, puts together holiday baskets for families in need, and transports the elderly to the grocery store. She also founded a nonprofit, All About the Youth, which provides mentoring and community resources for disadvantaged young people.

Nelson Moody Sr., a protective services officer with Johns Hopkins Hospital, volunteers at Liberty Elementary School, reading to the students and assisting teachers and staff as needed. He also advocates for strong, positive fatherhood through social media, online workshops, and four books he's published.

Adi Noiman, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health, supports academically challenged high school students as a member of Thread (formerly the Incentive Mentoring Program), which connects Johns Hopkins University–based volunteers with at-risk students in East Baltimore. Noiman assists with tutoring and the job and college application process.

Margaret Strong, a senior research technician at the School of Medicine, has organized a science fair and science summer camp for Baltimore City middle school students, exposing them to the excitement of science and research at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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