April 4th I got a call from my mom around 1 PM asking if I was busy that night. Turns out she wasn’t feeling well enough to attend a party my dad wanted to attend. She asked if I would be able to get him there. I said sure no problem but just to drop him off. I didn’t feel like dressing up and turning on all my manners because I do that for a living. About half way through my shower I realized that BECAUSE I do this for a living is all the more reason to do it because this is family. If I can do it for strangers I sure as heck better do it for blood.
Turns out there was a really good reason my dad wanted to attend this banquet. My cousin DeMaurice Smith is the lawyer for all NFL players (no seriously I’m not kidding) and he would be receiving a Drum Major for Justice award in the sports category from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The award was created in 1980 to celebrate individuals who make a significant contribution to the causes and works of MLK. The honorees are ones who have marched forth in service and justice in their chosen field.
The trustees for the award are Joseph Lowery and Dr. Evelyn Lowery. They were some MAJOR players in the civil rights movement during MLK’s time. If you don’t know who they are google them.
Sitting at the table across from us was MLK’s sister, Christine King Farris. The MC of the evening was Karyn Greer, our news anchor on NBC. At our table was a host of former and current football players who had come to honor my father’s nephew.
The event was engaging and a little surreal. I was asked to go only that day so I didn’t know what I was dealing with. My parents funnily are not big on giving details a lot of the time. After seeing who was there, reading the program, and realizing who we were sitting with I got a grasp on the situation. Rather glad I have some history in dealing with famous people so I wouldn’t lose my head 🙂
Benjamin Utt did the introduction. He played football for Baltimore and Indianapolis. He was very kind and his speech was indicative to how much esteem the players had for my cousin.
Here is DeMaurice’s acceptance speech. Well spoken and concise.
Some pictures from the evening.