Leaders of Sandy Springs gathered at City Hall on Jan. 21 in memory of Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. and singled out a man who they felt best exemplified King’s message.
Felix Lora is the 2013 recipient of the city’s Humanitarian Award, a distinction awarded people who serve the local community. He is the first man to receive the award since the city, founded in 2005, started bestowing the honor. In his role as director of Sandy Springs Mission, Lora provides an additional resource for more than 140 children who need help in school.
Lora gives them that and more, previous award winner Tamara Carrera said.
“When you see Felix at work what impresses you is his ability to connect with young people,” Carrera said. “They respect him, they listen to him, they learn from him.”
Carrera said 100 percent of students from High Point Elementary in Lora’s program passed the state CRCT exams.
Lora thanked God and thanked the other people like him who are living Dr. King’s dream.
“It’s just a privilege to be recognized today as someone who exemplified the work and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” he said.
Rodney Bullard, keynote speaker for the event, is executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. His remarks focused on progress made but also on the promises yet unfulfilled, with an emphasis on education and low graduation rates among Georgia students.
“Too many of our families, too many of our children still suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations, the faint bigotry of the acceptance of status quo and the blind bigotry of inattention and apathy,” Bullard said.
Bullard said that while the state ranks near the bottom in terms of educational achievement, it has other dubious distinctions.
“The size of our prison population in the state of Georgia ranks fourth in the nation and metro Atlanta leads the nation in child sex trafficking,” Bullard said.
He said that dreams do come true, but people must take action to make their dreams a reality.
Pastor Henry Bush of Sharon Community United Methodist Church in Sandy Springs said at first many in the community were skeptical when Sandy Springs decided to hold the event. When the city became a reality in 2005, it contained a majority white population that had formed its own city within majority black county. Bush said the city’s decision to continue the event shows its commitment to the event shows leaders are not denying more can be done to improve opportunity for all.
“I commend you for Sandy Springs because even though you don’t say it publically your continuous acknowledgement of this event and this day say there’s room for more,” Bush said. “We all agree we are all trying to do one thing and that’s making America better.”
Past award recipients
2012: Tamara Carrera
2011: Melanie Noble-Couchman
2010: Carolyn Axt
2009: Lucy Hall-Gainer
2008: Randi Passoff
2007: Nancy McCord