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Students, faculty recognized at Spirit of MLK Awards event

During the month of February, Americans focus their historical hindsight on the contributions that African-American individuals have made to this country. 

In honor of Black History Month, Student Life at South Plains College presented the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.

to individuals who symbolize leadership through service that Dr. King practiced. The honorees were announced during a dinner on Feb. 20 held in the Founders Room of the Student Center on the Levelland Campus. 

Author Raven Turner delivered the keynote speech as the guest speaker for the night. Turner is the author of her first self-published book, “Pushed: Turning Adversity into Advantage.” She shared her story and personal experiences with the audience to encourage them and show them how to overcome failures and oppositions.

Spirit of MLK
Danisha Lewis, Myrna Whitehead, Robert Plant, and Jessica Miesner were recipients of the Spirit of MLK Awards presented Feb. 20.
Photo courtesy of Wes Underwood/MARKETING AND RECRUITMENT

Later in the evening, the Spirit of MLK award winners were announced. Those receiving awards were: sophomore Danisha Lewis, recipient of the MLK Student Leadership Award; Myrna Whitehead, coordinator of News and Information at SPC, recipient of the Black Student Union Staff Leadership Award; Robert Plant, assistant professor of Mathematics at SPC, recipient of the Spirit of MLK Community Leadership Award; and Jessica Miesner, public service librarian in the Library on the Levelland campus, recipient of the Black Student Union Advocates Award.

Lewis came to SPC with a goal in mind. She rebooted the Black Student Union (BSU) on campus and has watched it grow with new members and by putting on events. 

“The BSU was here a few years ago and it had died down because they weren’t getting the right recognition that they needed,” she said. “ I started it back up to bring awareness to diversity, and because there is a lot going on, not only here on campus, but around the world.”

Whitehead is a hardworking employee at SPC who was recognized for her contributions to both the college and her community .

“To be recognized for those efforts was humbling and wonderful,” said Whitehead, adding that it was an emotional experience for her. 

“Every day, you’re free,” she said. “You are not restricted or limited  because of the way things used to be. The only person stopping you now is yourself, and that right was given to us through Dr. King.”

Plant was honored at the event for his involvement with the students in the tutor lab during his free time in the Math Department. 

“I was surprised to have been nominated,” Plant said. “But realizing the story behind the award, it was an honor.”

Plant also mentioned that what he hopes students take away from the spirit of MLK is that he was not just focused on a single race, but instead Dr. King focused on improving the quality of life for all people, and for the recognition of all people in humanity, but “especially people of color who have been disenfranchised and disadvantaged” throughout the history of the United States. 

Miesner was recognized because of her efforts to put on events at the Levelland campus Library throughout Black History Month. She organized talks given by professors on campus, along with craft nights and trivia card games, which brought cultural awareness to students. 

“Receiving the award meant a lot,” she said, “especially that it was given by the students. But to find out that people really did appreciate the efforts we were doing by providing space for activities and by providing talks, because the library as a community space is something we have been really trying to work on.”

Miesner also said that when thinking about events that have happened in history, think about all people who have made contributions, people who might not be talked about as much or even in textbooks today. 

“It’s a lot more diverse than what we’ve been taught,” said Miesner.

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