Former Gary Mayor Clay named 2012 Drum Major
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent January 14, 2012 2:26PM
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (right) talks to US Representative Peter Visclosky at the 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Saturday January 14, 2012 at the Genesis Center in Gary, IN. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 18, 2012 10:04AM
GARY — Former Gary Mayor Rudy Clay is the 2012 Drum Major, an award presented annually by the Gary Frontiers Service Club in conjunction with the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Clay, who received the award at the 33rd memorial breakfast on Saturday, acknowledged his fellow nominees — Sandra Irons, the Rev. Dwight Gardner, Bishop E. Bobby Warren, Arlene Colvin, Richard “Chappy” Woods and Richard Ligon.
“Any of you could be standing here as a Drum Major because you all prove to be champions of service,” Clay said.
“I have always been a soldier for the civil rights movement and even as I have taken off my political hat I will continue to wear my service hat.”
The atmosphere of the breakfast focused on working together to rebuild Gary and Northwest Indiana regardless of racial, ethnic, social and professional background.
“The challenges Rev. King and others in the civil rights movement are parallel to the challenges Gary faces today,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. “There were naysayers in the civil rights movement but people like King and Ralph Abernathy continued to fight. There are naysayers regarding turning Gary back around but we have to keep moving.”
Gary City Council president Kyle W. Allen Sr. said while there is a new Gary mayor and administration, the administration cannot change the city alone.
“Our business at task is social justice, that is what we must focus on,” Allen said. “There has to be social justice for people to have employment and an education and opportunity. We have to strive for social justice for our children.
“Help someone and you will be better for it,” Allen said.
U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky said the mission is to stop dreaming and go into action.
“Everyone in this room knows someone who is sick but has no health care. Everyone in this room knows of someone who is unemployed or underemployed. The dreaming is over, it is time to do something.
“Contact the elected officials and the state legislators and ask them what do you need for us to do in order to help make changes. The dream is not going to prevail if each of us does not do our part,” Visclosky said.
Urban League president and CEO Vanessa Allen said every person should beat their drum to rally community service.
“We are all champions of the underserved, we are all advocates for those without a voice. It is our duty to serve and help all,” she said.