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Metro Newsroom

Mayor Presents Freedom Award to Dr. Bernard Minnis

Wednesday February 18, 2009

Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced that Dr. Bernard I. Minnis, is the 2009 recipient of Louisville Metro’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award. Minnis is an educator who currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Programs for the Jefferson County Public Schools. He has spent decades improving race and class relations through education.

“Dr. King had a dream, and Bernard Minnis brought Dr. King’s vision to classrooms in Kentucky and the United States,” Abramson said. “Over his decades in education, countless lives have been improved through Dr. Minnis’ efforts to fight racism, poverty and inequality for students.”

Abramson presented the first Freedom Award in 1987 during his first term as mayor. The award recognizes citizens that have dedicated their lives to promoting justice, peace, freedom, non-violence, racial equality and civic activism. Previous winners include Ben Richmond, Raoul Cunningham, Georgia Davis Powers, Ed Hamilton, Lyman T. Johnson, Beverly Watts, Sam Watkins and Deborah Todd. This year’s award is a glass sculpture created by Louisville artist Ken vonRoenn.

“I am humbled and honored for receiving this prestigious award named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Dr. Minnis said. “As a college student and a young teacher in the 60’s, I admired Dr. King and his work. My wife and I walked with Dr. King in the March on Frankfort while we were in college at Kentucky State University.”

Minnis has served in leadership positions in education for decades. He has been the Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity, and Poverty Programs since 2008 and prior to that, he served four years as a Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, immediately after retirement in 2004.

He has published a book on desegregation called, Contingency Planning for a Unitary School System, and has written several articles for education publications on topics such as minorities and testing and Guidelines for Evaluating Teachers and Administrators.

Minnis’ career includes serving as a classroom teacher in the Paducah Independent Schools and in inner-city schools in Louisville; a co-op coordinator of a program for disadvantaged youth; Kentucky State Director of Vocational Education Programs for the Disadvantaged and Handicapped; Assistant Superintendent for Human and Community Relations for the former Jefferson County Schools and the merged district; a middle school principal (JCPS), Director of Communications and Community Relations for the Charleston County School District in Charleston, South Carolina; Deputy Associate Superintendent for Instruction with the Kentucky Department of Education; and Assistant Superintendent for Equity and Poverty Issues with JCPS.

Minnis was born in Louisville, but spent his formative years on the campus of Lincoln Institute in Shelby County, Kentucky, where his father was a teacher. Minnis received his B.S. degree from Kentucky State University, his M.A. degree from Western Kentucky University, and a doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky. He is married to Ethel Eaves, and they have three children. Two of his children are employed with the Jefferson County Public Schools. One is a classroom teacher, and the other an elementary school counselor.

Past awards and honors include: selected as one of 25 Educational Fellows; awarded the Catto Watts Black Understanding Service Award; Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award from the Boy Scouts of America; selected as one of Kentucky State University’s 100 Outstanding Alumni; the Milburn T. Maupin Administrators Award from the Jefferson County Association of School Administrators; has had two scholarships named after him (15th District PTA Scholarship and the Greater Louisville Alliance of Black School Educators) and was recognized by WHAS-TV and Kentucky Lottery as a Hero of Diversity.

Minnis was the vice president of the Jefferson County Association of School Administrators and currently serves on the boards of Greater Louisville Alliance of Black Educators; Boy Scouts of America’s Lincoln Heritage Council; The Louisville Enterprise Group; Youth Alive, Inc., the Village of Louisville, Inc., as well as the Louisville Urban League Campaign for African American Achievement Steering Committee, and the Shawnee Neighborhood Weed & Seed Initiative.