The King Holiday Committee of Peoria presented its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service Leadership Award and MLK Drum Major Awards at the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service held at Mt. Zion Baptist Church following the MLK Freedom March on Monday, January 15, 2018.
Judge Mary McDade was awarded with the prestigious Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service Leadership Award. The award goes to an individual or group that has made a significant contribution having great impact to our community.
Her life has been wrapped up in housing, education, jobs and justice. Her mother and her father were strong advocates for equal justice. She has carried their legacy.
Fifty years ago this year, she became the first African-American elected to Peoria’s board of education. In fact, she is the first black person elected to public office in Peoria. But her election was a ray of hope for a coalition bent on equality in housing, jobs, justice and, most importantly, education.
Long before there was a phrase called school-to-prison pipeline, she was taking a stand against unwarranted school expulsions. She kept on taking stands after she left the school board, but she eventually found new stages.
In 1981, at the age of 41, she enrolled in law school. A decade later, she was named partner in a local law firm. By 2000, she was elected to the Third District Appellate Court of Illinois. Again, she was a first. . .the first black female appellate court judge outside of Cook County. . .which is why her opinions matter. In many cases, appellate court decisions are the final say simply because the vast majority of cases don’t reach Illinois’ Supreme Court.
As the 50th anniversary of her election to Peoria’s school board approaches, as the end of her second ten-year term on the appellate court nears, we are elated to honor a woman whose work has not stopped.
The 2018 MLK Drum Major Awards were presented to the following black Greek organizations for their ongoing and effective community service including providing college scholarships, mentoring, character development, minority business development, tutoring, and support:
- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
- Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
- Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
- Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority
- Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority