Dr. Neal A Lester receives the Town of Paradise Valley MLK 2019 Diversity Award

Dr. Neal Lester has been named the winner of the Town of Paradise Valley MLK 2019 Diversity Award. (photo courtesy of Arizona State University)

The Town of Paradise Valley will observe and celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 21, 2019 at the Town Hall with a ceremony starting at 11 a.m. and luncheon immediately following.

During the ceremony, Dr. Neal A Lester, Foundation Professor of English and Founding Director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University, will be awarded the Paradise Valley MLK 2019 Diversity Award for dedicating his life trying to change people’s unconscious as well as conscious attitudes toward race and class by looking inward and discovering how a sense of privilege “may inform our decisions and control our actions.”

Dr. Kana Chinasamy

Dr. Neal A. Lester is an accomplished and respected community leader who promotes the values of talking, listening, and connecting through Project Humanities, an organization he founded, and its Humanity 101 initiative.

He is dedicated to helping others embrace their shared humanity through programming and events that have garnered local and national attention and accolades.

Dr. Lester’s work not only encompasses vital programming, but also continuously impactful outreach in the community. Dr. Lester’s work in race relations, empathy and workplace training has created a more welcoming and inclusive environment not only in ASU but also in our communities in Arizona. A common theme running through Dr. Lester’s work, pervasive in everything he does, is his belief that culture and difference should be acknowledged, valued, and celebrated as elements of our shared humanity.

From a young age, Dr. Lester had two passions: teaching and learning.

Throughout his academic career, spanning over 30 years, he has worked ambitiously to share his knowledge with students and the public at large, encouraging and empowering them to critically view and experience the world in a way that challenges their own perceptions and biases. He connects his literary studies with world events, emphasizing the power of seeing the world and each other as a textbook with myriad and endless lessons learned through talking, listening, and connecting.

Through talking, listening, and sharing personal narratives, he has connected with his audiences in profound ways that underscore the fact that despite individual differences in appearance, perspectives and even values, human beings are, as poet Maya Angelou posits, “more alike than we are unalike.”

He has been dean and department chair as well as a vice president at ASU. He has taught courses on broad array of subjects, including African-American women writers, children’s books, the Disney representations of women, the N-word and even the racial and gender politics of hair.

Dr. Lester has been showered with honors and special recognition for his work inside and outside the classroom. In 2017 he received the city of Tempe 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Diversity Award, Dr. Lester’s portrait is permanently displayed in the Tempe History Museum. He has authored, co-authored and edited seven books.

During the ceremony, another address will be delivered by Mr. Ramiro Russel, a representative from the Bahá’i community. The Bahá’i Faith, the world’s newest independent global belief system, teaches the oneness of God, the unity of humanity and the essential harmony of religion.

Bahá’is believe in peace, justice, love, altruism and unity. The Bahá’i teachings promote the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice.

As part of the Federal National Day Service on MLK Day, a food drive is also being organized. Canned or boxed food can be dropped off at the Paradise Valley Town Hall during normal business days and evenings during public meeting days. There is also a drop off box available 24 hours a day in the Police Department lobby.

Donations will be delivered to the Paradise Valley community food bank on 32nd Street north of Shea Boulevard the day after MLK Day.
Please join your fellow Paradise Valley residents and other long-time friends of the Town’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 21, starting at 11 a.m., in the Town Hall council chamber, 7601 E. Lincoln Drive. Due to limited seating and parking, it’s best to arrive about 15 minutes early.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Kana Chinasamy is member of the Bahá’i faith.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment