By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 10, 2008
The 2008 History Maker’s Award will be given to Ralph McCloud, the first black man to lead the U.S. Catholic bishops’ anti-poverty campaign. The award is given as part of the celebration in the Atlanta Archdiocese for the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
\The 24th annual service commemorating King’s life will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 1 p.m. at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in downtown Atlanta. The theme for this year’s celebration is, “Guide Our Feet Into the Way of Peace,” taken from the Gospel of Luke. The main celebrant for the Mass will be Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Father Bruce Wilkinson, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Atlanta, will deliver the homily. The public is invited.
Artwork for the celebration was designed by Celeste Johnson of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Atlanta. The art ties together the theme by representing the work individuals are called to perform for the betterment of all. Each generation of Christians must perform works of peace and justice with their own causes, just as King did.
On Sunday, Jan. 20, the celebration continues at 3 p.m. with the sixth annual MLK Youth and Young Adult Celebration at St. Peter Claver Regional School, 2560 Tilson Road, Decatur. The service is an evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
McCloud was appointed to lead the Catholic Campaign for Human Development earlier this year. He comes from Fort Worth, Texas, where he headed the diocese’s Department for Community and Pastoral Services for nearly a dozen years. He also was in charge of the diocese’s African-American ministries for many years. He serves as a board member of the Roundtable, the National Association of Diocesan Social Ministry Directors. McCloud is also active in civic life. He was elected to four terms on the Fort Worth City Council and served as Fort Worth’s mayor pro-tem from 1999 to 2005. He was co-founder of the African-American Summit for Peace, Justice and Equality and is a past-president of the National Association of Black Catholic Administrators. Now he leads the bishops’ anti-poverty program which funds community groups and economic development projects that focus on resolving root causes of poverty in the United States.
In 2006, $39,000 was distributed here to 12 nonprofits through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and over $9 million nationally. Over $280 million has been given through CCHD since it began in 1970.
Last year’s recipients of the History Maker’s Award were Norman Francis, the president of Xavier University, New Orleans, and DeLise Coleman of College Park, a member of St. John the Evangelist Church, Hapeville, who was elected national secretary of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.