Don Logan receives 2018 Town of Paradise Valley Diversity Award

The crowd gathered at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day that was held Monday, Jan. 15 at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (Photo credit: Hessam Rahimian)

Perseverance could be a part of the nomenclature to best describe the actions and demeanor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era of the United States during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s.

Countless deplorable acts against Dr. King, his family, his followers and his perspective did not stop the man whose legacy is honored and observed by all American communities on the third Monday of January.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only National Day of Service named after an American civil rights pioneer, which appears to befit the recipient of the 2018 Town of Paradise Valley Diversity Award: Don Logan.

Along with Dr. King, perseverance could be a part of the vernacular to describe the lifelong civil servant who Don Logan is.

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i of Paradise Valley presented Mr. Logan with its 2018 Diversity Champion Award Monday, Jan. 15, honoring his 35-plus years of dedication and service in strengthening diversity and building relationships to bring communities together.

The award ceremony, held in conjunction with observance of the federal holiday honoring Dr. King, is in its 20th year and is spearhead by the Baha’i Assembly of Paradise Valley.

Calendar year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of when Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.

2018 Town of Paradise Valley Diversity Award recipient Don Logan, who was presented the award by the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i of Paradise Valley. (Photo credit: Hessam Rahimian)

Persevering through adversity

“People don’t get along because they don’t know each other, they don’t know each other because they haven’t found a way to communicate properly,” Mr. Logan said at the Jan. 15 event at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Mr. Logan remembered the day Dr. King was killed.

“The announcement came out in my grade school and I didn’t know who he was, but I knew that his assassination created unrest in our community,” he recalled.

“Rioting, people burning up things they deemed necessary … who is this man who could garner such a response?”

Mr. Logan has been the director of the Equal Opportunity Department for the city of Phoenix since June 2015.

A view of the diversity award presented to Mr. Logan. (Photo credit: Hessam Rahimian)

He serves as a member of the organization’s executive leadership team and is responsible for managing city programs and policies that ensure equal opportunity in fair housing and employment, disability concerns, goals compliance, economic opportunity for small and disadvantaged businesses.

Before joining the city of Phoenix, he served as president of Don Logan & Associates, LLC. He managed a practice that was committed to providing consulting services related to diversity awareness training, employee relation resolutions, mediation, facilitation, team building, and motivational speaking.

Mr. Logan says the legacy of Dr. King was an intriguing topic for a young man finding his way in a world segregated by thoughts.

“It intrigues me to learn more about this man,” he said. “It wasn’t just the black people who he touched — the political term then was Negro — Dr. King touched all people and believed that all people should be treated with respect and with dignity.”

Mr. Logan served in multiple positions with the city of Scottsdale prior to the creation of his own firm and most recent employment with the city of Phoenix.

As director of the Scottsdale Office of Diversity and Dialogue, he worked closely with city staff and the community to cultivate important relationships. Mr. Logan credits his knowledge of Dr. King’s legacy that helped him persevere through a racially-charged attack during his time at the city of Scottsdale.

In 2004, Mr. Logan was the victim of a mail bombing leaving his right hand and arm scarred from finger to armpit.

Mr. Logan opened a box that had been sent to the office — it triggered a pipe-bomb that left Mr. Logan with severe injuries requiring multiple surgeries and skin grafts. He nearly lost his finger.

“Just when we thought things were spiraling upward, I was the target of a mail bomb and It was sent to me by two known white supremacists,” he said. “Had I read the instructions on the package I would not have been here to meet you all today.”

Brothers Dennis and Daniel Mahon were arrested for their involvement in mailing the package.

“As I lay there in bed thinking how my life had changed, (I kept thinking about) Dr. King’s principles — where he stood in times of challenge and controversy,” he recalled of his lengthy recovery and subsequent surgeries.

“I was challenged. But I did not want to be perceived as an angry black man. One part of that, thought, I can’t change — I will always be a black man.”

Mr. Logan says his mother taught him life is 10 percent of stuff that happens to you and 90 percent of what you do.

“I wouldn’t have become a target unless I was making a difference,” he pointed out. “How would he (Dr. King) react? The prevailing message was always kindness. I was in clean-up mode. I couldn’t worry about the things I cannot control, but I can control how I behave.”

Mr. Logan said what happened to him was about one thing: the color of his skin.

“Although I took the positive and let go of the negative — injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he said pointing out the judicial system was able to convict one of the two bombing suspects.

“The heartbreak for me was the judicial process. The prosecutors said to me beforehand, ‘the worst thing you can do is send the message that you are angry with they system.’ I have mental and physical scars that I feel everyday.”

Mr. Logan points to the triumph of honoring the legacy of Dr. King for 20 years at the Town of Paradise Valley.

“Everybody came through the front door,” he said that was met with applause. “There is such division going on in our country. We need to take hold of that. We need to take control of that. We are all on the same boat and we need to grab a row.”

Mr. Logan has been recognized and awarded numerous awards, including the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Public Service Award in 2001 and 2003, Image of the Year for Civil Rights Award by NAACP in 2005, Scottsdale’s MLK Diversity Champion Award in 2010 and in 2011 was recognized by the Arizona Interfaith Movement with the Community Golden Rule Award.

North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at tthornton@newszap.com

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