Drum Major Awards Breakfast honors Aiken African-Americans for excellence

January 20, 2019 GMT

There was an atmosphere of pride and hope at Aiken Technical College on Saturday as the community gathered to honor family and friends at the 12th annual Drum Major Unity Awards Breakfast.

The event coincides closely with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Sponsored by the Omicron Tau Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, it celebrates those who exemplify the principle of excellence set by King, while encouraging others to do the same.

“We’re celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Aiken City Councilwoman Lessie Price, this year’s recipient of the Drum Major Award. “That’s the purpose of this event. But it is what King stood for – and those things are academics, justice, leadership, equality and all of those great things – that we are reminded of on a daily basis.”

Price said it was an “esteemed honor” to receive the award, which she was chosen for due to her long record of civil service.

This year’s event included a live performance from the Experience Mime Team from Augusta.

A key theme of the ceremony was empowering today’s youth. In addition to Price receiving the Drum Major Award, three Aiken High School students received the John Aubrey Chase Memorial Scholarship during the event; Jahleel Johnson, Robert Morris and Gilric Stroganoff.

“One of the things that I saw up there was investment,” Price said. “Often times, people will invest in stock, in houses, in cars, but one of the greatest returns on our investment in this country is investing in our children. If we invest in our children, especially those that are in need, then we have made a lifetime investment.”

At one point, event speaker Marsh Denzell Moton asked every person in the room under the age of 21 to stand and thanked them for their presence.

Moton, currently a student at the Cumberland School of Law, was born and raised in Aiken. His speech touched briefly on the “time’s up” movement against systemic racism, sexism and discrimination, and the struggle to find unity in a turbulent political climate.

His solution to this problem? Love, rooted in the power of faith.

“We can’t love God without loving our neighbor,” Moton said. ”…We have to love those who seem unlovable, and love those who do not love us.”