Voices

Ohio Civil Rights Commission Honors Ohioans Who Furthered Civil and Human Rights

This week, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center staff attended the seventh annual Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. The Hall of Fame was created by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, in order to “acknowledge the citizens who have left their mark in the State of Ohio through their tireless efforts in furthering civil and human rights in their communities.”

This year’s inductees included founder of the Columbus Urban League, Nimrod B. Allen, founding member of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, Nirmal K. Sinha, Cincinnati philanthropists Schuyler and Merri Gaither Smith and member of the US House of Representatives, Louis Stokes. Attendees from across the state gathered as their peers in civil rights received recognition for their great service, including fellow Hall of Famers, Judge Nathaniel Jones and Dr. Marian Spencer.

Dr. Sean Decatur, 19th president of Kenyon college and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of Oberlin College, served as keynote speaker, where he thanked “those that opened the door” for him and continued to inspire greatness in others through their legacies. Decatur emphasized his responsibility as an educator and the duties of an educated society by recalling a passage of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, The Three Dimensions Of A Complete Life, in which King stressed that length, breadth and height are equal components of a complete life:

“And there are three dimensions of any complete life to which we can fitly give the words of this text: length, breadth, and height.  Now the length of life as we shall use it here is the inward concern for one’s own welfare. In other words, it is that inward concern that causes one to push forward, to achieve his goals and ambitions. The breadth of life as we shall use it here is the outward concern for the welfare of others. And the height of life is the upward reach for God. Now you got to have all three of these to have a complete life… When you get all three of these working together, you will do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

Click here to read King’s full speech. Read the full list of Hall of Fame inductees here. Want the latest on upcoming special exhibitions, events and programs?  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @FreedomCenter and on Facebook, for more historical posts and images. 

 

Assia Johnson

Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator 

 

Images: Dr. Sean Decatur addressing a captive audience at the Ohio Statehouse and Schuyler and Merri Gaither Smith with Civil Rights Commission chair Leonard Hubert.

 

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