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2004 mlk winners

Martin Luther King Leadership Award recipients from left: Dr. Effie Grear, J. Leonard Bruton Jr., and Randy Johnson Sr.

Dr. Effie C. Grear

Having devoted 51 years of her life to serving as an educator in the public schools of West Virginia and Florida, Dr. Effie C. Grear retired in 2000.

Most of her career—44 years—was spent in Belle Glade where she worked for  14 years as a teacher, band director, dean and assistant principal at all-black Lake Shore Junior-Senior High School before transferring during desegregation to newly created Glades Central High School in 1970.

In 1975 she was named principal of Glades Central and served in that role for a quarter of a century. She has touched the lives of countless students and others in the Glades.

Dr. Grear has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including 1989 Citizen of the Year in Belle Glade and the Ida S. Baker Distinguished Black Educator of the Year presented before the Florida Governor’s Cabinet in 1992. She also was recognized as Florida’s Principal of Excellence at a celebration in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the Council of Chief State Officers, the Burger King Corporation and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She was honored by U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings for her 51 years of service to public education and she was one of 21 “Women of Distinction�? honored by PBCC at Belle Glade in 2000.

She serves as a member of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, the board of directors of the Glades Community Development Corporation in Belle Glade, the Advisory Council for the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center and as a commissioner for the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and is actively involved with the local branch of the NAACP. She is a member and pianist at New Bethel A.M.E Church.

A Huntington, W.Va. native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in music from West Virginia State College, a master’s degree in music from Ohio State University and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Nova Southeastern University.

She is married to William A. Grear, Sr., Belle Glade’s first African-American elected official, and is the mother of two children, four grandsons and two great-grandsons.

J. Leonard Bruton, Jr.

For more than 26 years, Professor Leonard Bruton has distinguished himself both inside and outside of the classroom. He has taught history at PBCC in Boca Raton since the fall of 1977 when he became the first full-time faculty member hired for that campus.

Long before PBCC made diversity a college-wide strategic priority, Bruton was working to improve the racial mix of students at PBCC in Boca Raton and he’s been involved in coordinating diversity events and activities. After expressing the need for a more diverse student population, he was granted release time in 1990 to do minority recruiting. He visited churches, schools, professional organizations and community centers and high schools promoting the Boca Raton campus.

A Tallahassee native, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Afro-American studies and history and a master’s degree in applied social science from Florida A&M University, where he served in the world-famous “Marching 100�? band.  While in graduate school, he became the first intern for the Florida Archives Internship Program. He was selected as a research associate to set up the Black Archives at FAMU, where he was later employed. 
He has served on numerous committees and organizations including chairperson for the Innovative Award Committee for the Student Activities Practitioners Association and president of SAPA. He was appointed by the Department of Education as advisor to the Student CLAST Committee and he has served as District V advisor for the Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association where twice he was chosen as Advisor of the Year.

He is the advisor for the Student Government Association and the Black Student Association at PBCC in Boca Raton. He has presented workshops at student conferences for the Florida African American Student Association, the Florida Junior Community College Student Government Association, and has been a keynote speaker for the city of Delray Beach Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. festivities, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Florida Division and the American Legion of Boca Raton.

He has received the Charles Chapman Distinguished Educator Award presented by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  He currently serves as the vice president of organization vitality for the National Council on Black American Affairs-Southern Region.

Randy Johnson, Sr.

Randy Johnson, Sr. started his telecommunications company in 1982 in the garage of his home with $500, lots of prayers and hard work in an industry that requires $500,000 to start.

He dedicated the company to God, and every morning since the company’s inception, he and his staff met for prayer. Communications by Johnson, Inc. has grown to 16 employees, including Johnson’s teenage sweetheart and wife of 40 years, Barbara, and their three children. It now has over 3,500 customers and is rated nationwide in the top 100 of all companies of its kind. The company services, installs and sells various types of telephone/voice and data communication systems.

Johnson, former governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis International, is very active in the community and has been instrumental in getting members of the Kiwanis Club to donate to PBCC’s Center for Early Learning Endowment for scholarships for children of low-income students.

A Washington, D.C. native and PBCC graduate, he has served as former chairman of the Criminal Justice Commission of Palm Beach County, the Planning and Zoning Board for the city of Riviera Beach and numerous other boards.

He currently serves on the board of directors of the Work Force Council, the Alzheimer’s Community Care and the Palm Beach Maritime Museum. He’s a member of Saint Francis Catholic Church where he serves on the Parish Council and on the Board of Catholic Charities.

His company has received numerous awards including Business of the Year from the Minority Business Development Council in 1985 and from the Tri County Chapter of the National Business League in 1986.

Toward a More Perfect Union

In 1999, several Palm Beach County citizens participated in a series of study circles, a process for small group deliberation on the issues of race and ethnicity and their impact on the community.

The circles were sponsored by the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties through its Human and Race Relations Program.  From one of these circles came the idea to form an initiative that would address these critical issues on a more sustained basis.  Study circle participants, area funders and other interested parties formed a steering committee to more fully develop the idea of an initiative, determine its structure and construct a plan for facilitation.

As a result of this collaboration, Toward a More Perfect Union, a nonprofit organization, was formed in 2000. Since then, the organization has conducted study circles on race relations in Jupiter, Northwood/Pleasant City and several Episcopal churches. It also has conducted several youth study circles in after-school centers throughout West Palm Beach. It is currently working to form public safety study circles with West Palm Beach Police and Fire Rescue departments and Weed and Seed community members.

The work the group is most proud is the five concurrent study circles conducted in the city of Belle Glade. The study circles will continue, and the community is currently addressing action items that were developed from the study circle work.

Centex Rooney

Centex Rooney Construction Co., founded in 1933, has become Florida's largest provider of professional construction management services.  Centex Rooney is a subsidiary of the Centex Corporation (NYSE-CTX), the publicly owned company that ranks among the nation's leading home builders and commercial contractors.

Its corporate philosophy of diversity has produced results.  For example, it achieved 37 percent minority/women-owned business participation for the construction of the new Education and Training Center at PBCC. Overall the company averages 24 percent minority/women-owned business participation in projects. The company established a state-certified construction management training course for minority/women business enterprises, which was first conducted at PBCC in 2002, and 30 percent of its new hires within the past year have been minority and/or women.

More info - MLK Story in Perspectives Newsletter

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