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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Mayor to Present Freedom Award to Rep. Darryl Owens

Friday January 6, 2012

Presentation during King “Keepers of the Dream”
Arts Celebration Jan. 15

Mayor Greg Fischer today announced that State Rep. Darryl T. Owens is the 2012 recipient of Louisville Metro’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award. Owens is a longtime public servant, as a former Jefferson County Commissioner and now in his fourth term as state representative for the 43rd district in Louisville.

Fischer will present the award Sunday, Jan. 15, during the free “Keepers of the Dream” community arts celebration dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 5 p.m. at the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall, 501 W. Main St.

“As a pioneering public servant and a tireless advocate for civil and human rights, Darryl Owens has had a profound impact on our city and state,” Fischer said. “Darryl’s strength of convictions and his commitment and involvement in so many issues and organizations has earned him the respect of the community and he is very deserving of this award.”

“I am honored and deeply humbled to receive the 2012 Louisville Metro’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award,” Owens said. “Dr. King set the standard for true public service and he inspires me to continue working on issues that reflect his passion -- justice, peace, and equality for all. I am fortunate to live in a community that allows me to pursue these goals every day.”

In addition to his career as an elected official, Rep. Owens has been a strong advocate for civil rights, equality and justice.

He has served as past president of the Louisville Legal Aid Society, president of the Louisville Branch of the NAACP, and first vice president of the Louisville Urban League. He has also served on the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees.

He was voted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame and named a 2005 Outstanding Policy Maker in Kentucky.

In 1983, Rep. Owens was elected as a commissioner of the Jefferson County Fiscal Court, the first and only African American to serve in this capacity. He was the first African American to serve as assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and as a member of the Kentucky Workman’s Compensation Board.

Rep. Owens is a member of the Louisville and Kentucky Bar Associations and has served as an assistant county attorney and a juvenile court judge.

In only his second term as state representative, he was appointed chairman of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. He also serves as Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Health and Welfare and the Licensing and Occupations committees.

Rep. Owens earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Central State University in Ohio and his Juris Doctorate from the Howard University of Law.

Norton Healthcare is the presenting sponsor of the Freedom Award. This year’s award is a blown glass design created by Ché Rhodes, Associate Professor, Head of Glass, University of Louisville Hite Art Institute.

“It is both a privilege and an honor for Norton Healthcare to be associated with a program that highlights Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to society and his legacy that lives on through community leaders such as Darryl Owens,” said Thomas Johnson, system vice president & chief communications officer for Norton Healthcare. “The impact that Representative Owens and previous Freedom Award winners have had on our community, state and country will live on for years to come and help pave the way to equality and justice for all.”

The Freedom Award, first presented in 1987, recognizes citizens that have dedicated their lives to promoting justice, peace, freedom, non-violence, racial equality and civic activism. Previous winners include Charlie Johnson, Merv Aubespin, Dr. Bernard Minnis, Ben Richmond, Raoul Cunningham, Georgia Davis Powers, Ed Hamilton, Lyman T. Johnson, Beverly Watts, Sam Watkins and Deborah Todd.

The Jan. 15 concert and arts celebration is presented by the Kentucky Center ArtsReach Program and will feature musical and theatrical presentations by Aqura Lacey of Alvin Ailey II, the River City Drum Corp., the Louisville Central Community Center & Portland Neighborhood House with opera singer Gregory Rahming, Peace Education Program Choir, the ArtsReach Dance Studio from Cabbage Patch Settlement House, and the ArtsReach Violin Studio with local jazz/soul violinist Maestro J.