Cleveland Orchestra Announces Three Recipients of 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award

The Cleveland Orchestra announces its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award recipients for 2022: Joan Southgate, Dolores White and the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center. Created to recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals and organizations who have positively impacted Cleveland in the spirit of Dr. King’s teachings, the MLK Community Service Awards honor these women and this organization for their outstanding contributions to the community of Cleveland.

The awards will be officially presented onstage at the Severance Music Center prior to the Orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert on Saturday, June 4, 2022 by Jeffery Weaver, chair of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Community Engagement Committee.

The concert is sponsored by community access partner KeyBank and by Medical Mutual.

2022 marks 20 years since Joan Southgate – a retired Cleveland-area social worker and activist – embarked on a 519-mile walk through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada as part of on an educational mission to shed light on the Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery history of the communities she visited, including Cleveland. At the end of the march, she founded the organization Restore Cleveland Hope (“Hope” was the Underground Railroad’s code name for Cleveland) to continue telling the stories of those who fought against slavery. The organization initially focused on saving the historic Cozad-Bates House at University Circle as a reminder of the legacy of the Underground Railroad conductors. In the fall of 2021, it reopened as an interpretive center for the Underground Railroad, ensuring that generations of visitors understand the history of this region shaped by brave and resourceful abolitionists.

Dolores White is a pioneering composer from Ohio, a passionate advocate of contemporary American music, and a pioneer as an African-American woman in classical music. She is an alumnus of the Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music and the widow of cellist Donald White, who became the first African-American cellist in a major orchestra when appointed to Cleveland by George Szell. The recipient of numerous ASCAP commissions and awards, White has used his talent and voice to contribute significantly to musical life here in Cleveland and beyond over his long career. White’s composition, Celebration, will be performed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Concert in June.

The Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland is named after Julia de Burgos, a teacher, Puerto Rican poet, and civil rights activist who fought for the freedoms of women and minority artists . Founded in 1989, the Center provides a safe gathering place and opportunity for Latinx artists, youth and families. It is committed to using the arts as a tool to promote greater understanding and positive social change, foster cultural pride, and preserve Latinx heritage.

The center is a hub for many key artistic initiatives and programs such as the Hispanic Heritage Festival, Unidos por el Arte (United through Art), and the Puerto Rican Parade. The center is the heart of its community, celebrating Latinx diversity and challenging prejudice and hatred.

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