Florida Tech Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. at Community Event Jan. 14

University Will Bestow Bridge Builder and Pioneer Awards

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology will celebrate the life and achievements of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, in the Hartley Room of the Denius Student Center on the university’s Melbourne campus.

Florida Tech President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese and Executive Vice President and COO T. Dwayne McCay are scheduled to join other university and community leaders in the free public event, which also features a presentation of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by orator Leonard Ross.

Ross also has another role on Thursday: recipient of the university’s prestigious 2016 Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award.

After a welcome by Catanese, Bob Taylor, associate dean, College of Psychology and Liberal Arts and a professor of history, will provide remarks, and then Ross will read King’s famous speech. That will be followed by a keynote address from Jordin Chandler.

Chandler, a 2015 graduate of Palm Bay High School, is a budding motivational speaker who has traveled the country where, according to his bio, he has “encouraged, motivated and inspired many (young and old).”

A college student now, he is majoring in political science. He plans to pursue a career in politics with a goal of being elected President of the United States.

After the keynote address, McCay will present the Rev. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award, which recognizes success in community activism and improvement, to the Rev. Glenn B. Dames, Jr., senior minister of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Titusville.

The senior minister at St. James since 2006, Dames responded to his calling to preach the Gospel at age 15. Since then, he has served in churches across the country, including youth pastor of the Historic St. James A.M.E. Church in Orange Park, Fla., the Third Street Bethel A.M.E. Church in Richmond, Va., and Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C., and senior minister of the Mt. Pisgah A.M.E. Church in Starke, Fla.

A Jacksonville native, Dames is a graduate of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville and The Turner Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga., where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Ministry at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Dames’ ministry and impact extends beyond the walls of his church. He is a participant of Save African American Boys, a member of the Sons of Allen of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and past president of the North Brevard branch of the NAACP, as well as a 2015 LEAD Brevard’s 4 Under 40 award recipient.

He is married to Dr. Jennifer Dames and father of daughters Detra and Jailynn and son Glenn B. Dames, III, known as Tre’.

Catanese will then present Ross with the Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award, named for Florida Tech’s first African-American student.

Born in Plains, Ga., to a Baptist minister and an elementary school teacher, Ross later entered the U.S. Army, where he would serve 22 years before retiring in 1988 as the senior enlisted advisor to the commander of the Army Readiness Group at Patrick Air Force Base. During his Army career he completed two combat tours in the Vietnam.

Among his numerous military awards, Ross was the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Purple Heart for wounds received in ground combat against a hostile enemy force and the Bronze Star for heroism against a hostile enemy force.

Ross is active in the community, serving in multiple capacities as a Free Mason, Shriner and community leader. He served 22 years as president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Coalition, seven years as president of the Melbourne Police Community Relations Council, as an organizer and leader of Melbourne Against Drugs, and is a past vice president and chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the South Brevard branch of the NAACP. Ross is a charter member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Ross and his wife of 41 years, Pat, live in Satellite Beach, where they own and operate Jordan Realty of South Brevard.

After the awards, Taylor will offer the evening’s conclusion, followed by the performance of two songs by the Florida Tech Concert Choir, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

For more information, contact Stevie Pursell at spursell@fit.edu or 321-674-6826.


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