Metropolitan Baptist Church in Columbus presented Rothschild Middle School principal Michael Forte with its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award Monday at the MLK Unity Day Service.
“I am humbled by this,” Forte said. “I have tried my very best to be a good man.”
Metropolitan pastor Curtis Crocker Jr. and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson presented the award before an audience of about 650 people..
Crocker said Forte was given the award for his “exemplary work within the community.”
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He said Forte has put his best foot forward mentoring young people.
The featured speaker at the event, which has been held since 1986, was U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop.
In his speech, Bishop talked about the large number of poor people in this country and said one way to honor King would be to “renew the war on poverty” and support people fighting to get a living wage.
He called King a man who “stood tall at a crucial time” and was able to bring dignity to the common man.
He told the audience, “Each of us has the ability to make a difference.”
Addressing those gathered, Tomlinson said King should be remembered as a man who reminded us that despite all our differences, we are one humanity.”
Superior Court Judge Art Smith said King lived a “life worth celebrating” and State Rep. Calvin Smyre reminded people that “you can’t say community without unity.”
Some of the dignitaries in attendance were Muscogee County Tax Commissioner Lula Huff, city councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes, State Senator Ed Harbison, Columbus Chapter NAACP president Abraham Wallace and State Rep. Debbie Buckner.
The Baker Middle School Ensemble performed.