Florida Tech Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. at Community Event Feb. 17

University Will Present Winners of Pioneer, Bridge Builder Awards

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech will celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. and the community members who are carrying on his legacy at a free public event Thursday, Feb. 17, at Gleason Performing Arts Center on the Florida Tech campus in Melbourne.

Hosted by the Florida Tech Alumni Association, the event runs from 7-8:30 p.m., with a reception and light refreshments to follow in the courtyard outside. Registration is requested by emailing rsvp@fit.edu with the number of guests attending. Masks will be required during the indoor program.

The agenda includes a live rendition of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by orator Leonard Ross, a keynote address by an entrepreneur, author and Florida Tech alumnus Davon Kelly, and the presentation of the university’s Dr. Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award and Dr. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award.

Bruce Buggs will be the recipient of the Dr. Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award, named for Florida Tech’s first African-American student and presented to a deserving candidate to honor their commitment and contributions to their community. A native of Melbourne, Buggs is the founder and proprietor of Buggs Funeral Home and serves as one of the licensed funeral directors and embalmers there. He has operated the company for 31 one years with his wife and two daughters. Buggs is currently serving as president of the Independent Funeral Directors of Florida.   

Buggs, who received the Exceptional Citizen Award by Space Coast Public Service in 2020, is making important community contributions outside of his business, as well.

He has donated time, labor, materials and funds to the restoration and maintenance of several community establishments, including Full Gospel Deliverance Church, In Season Ministries, South Brevard Ministerial Alliance, Grant Street Community Cemetery, as well as several other historical cemeteries. An ordained deacon and licensed minister, he is a member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

Dorothy Ann King Linson will be presented the Rev. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award, which recognizes success in community activism and improvement. A senior supervisor for the City of Melbourne before retiring in 2009 after 32 years, Linson – known as Ms. Dot – has for decades been an untiring force for good on the Space Coast.

In 1989, she co-founded Club Esteem with her friend Gladys Williams to teach children in the community how to be upstanding citizens, the importance of getting a good education, having respect for oneself and others and serving the community, and how to have confidence in their abilities. Her support provided assistance with tutoring, clothing and food.

She may be better known for hosting an annual Thanksgiving community luncheon for seniors and their families at the Lipscomb Community Center in Melbourne. For the past 20 years, Linson has provided the funding for the meals, with some assistance from her children and the occasional donation. 

Among her other work in the community, Linson started a senior citizen group that has made Christmas stockings, pillows and quilts for members of the armed services and community nursing homes. She also teaches an introductory sewing class for children and a nutrition class to teach them how to prepare meals for their families.

The night’s keynote presentation will be from Davon Kelly ‘90. The Washington, D.C.-area native has had success in multiple endeavors.

He is a founder, president and CEO of NOVAD Management Consulting, a multi-million-dollar strategic planning and financial advisory firm. Before establishing NOVAD, Kelly spent over 15 years in commercial banking, general accounting services, business process improvement and project management, holding a variety of senior manager and consultant positions within both the federal government and private industry.

In 2012, Kelly founded My Barber’s Lounge, an upscale barbershop chain in Maryland that provided 24 licensed barbers an opportunity to practice their craft. Two years later, he launched The 13th Man, a nonprofit organization that seeks to elevate the lives of young men through empowerment, development and leadership engagements. 

His popular 2014 book, From Courtside to the Boardroom: A Legacy in the Making, is filled with lessons learned during his time as a student-athlete at Florida Tech – where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance – and imbued with his passion for mentoring the next generation.

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