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Georgetown Honors Leader of D.C. Youth With Legacy Award; Smokey Robinson Performs

January 21, 2013 – Georgetown honored Mary Brown with the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream award last night for her more than 16 years of helping Washington, D.C.’s youth.

She accepted the award during Georgetown’s free Rev. Martin Luther King celebration on Jan. 20 at the Kennedy Center with singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson.

“Dr. King reminded us that, ‘Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable," Georgetown President John J. DeGioia said at the Kennedy Center. “It requires, he said, the ‘tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.’ ”

Answering King’s Call

“[Mary Brown] answers Dr. King’s call by serving our community’s youth and responding to their most urgent needs,” DeGioia added. “Through her life’s work, Mary Brown, has made a profound impact on the lives of boys and young men facing great adversity and challenging circumstances right here in the District of Columbia.”

Brown is executive director of Life Pieces to Masterpieces, which provides opportunities boys and young men, ages 3-25, to develop and activate their abilities through a curriculum that promotes the learning of languages, expression through art work, meditation, leadership, discipline, the importance of giving and loving.

Life Pieces has served more than 1,500 young men over the years in a city where only about 40 percent of black male students graduate from high school.


Over the past six years, the organization boasts a 100 percent graduation rate of its participants, known as apprentices, who also all went on to pursue college, post-secondary training, the military or the workforce.

The John Thompson Jr. “Legacy of a Dream” Award, named for the former Georgetown men’s basketball coach, is presented annually by Georgetown to an individual or organization that reflects King’s life and spirit.

Former awardees include alumnus and former basketball star Dikembe Mutombo for improving conditions in his native Congo, and Marian Wright Edelman for championing children’s rights through the Children's Defense Fund.

“Empowerment through character-building defines the work of both Coach John Thompson and Mary Brown, and I’ve been privileged to see this in the approach John took with our students, and Mary with her artists,” DeGioia said. “For each of them, it’s about forming people of purpose, people who see themselves beyond the basketball court or beyond their neighborhood, who see themselves as part of a global community and who want to make a difference in it.”

Smokey Sings

For the past 10 years the award has been presented during a free concert, open to the public, at the Kennedy Center.

Robinson, best known for Top 40 Hits such as “Tracks of My Tears” and “Baby Baby Don’t Cry,” performed along with the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by Washington, D.C., conductor and artist Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. The choir comprises both members of the surrounding and university communities.

The Motown artist, who sang “Being With You,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “My Girl,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “America the Beautiful,” invited the audience to sing along several times during the concert.

Promise Neighborhood

Georgetown’s service projects on Jan. 19 with the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative in the District’s Ward 7 were selected as an official part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s National Day of Service.

The projects are part of a weeklong commemoration (Jan. 19-25) of the life and work of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that includes the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative, religious services, musical entertainment and an academic focus on social messages from King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Hundreds of university students, faculty, staff and alumni and others volunteered to paint murals in area schools, conduct literacy workshops and assist members of the senior population in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7.

Biden and Jesuit Prayer

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Georgetown’s vice president for mission and ministry, was asked to say a prayer prior to Vice President Joseph Biden’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20.

“Gracious God, at this moment in our history,” O’Brien said, “we ask your blessing on your servant Joseph, as he renews his sacred pledge to his country, amid all the complexities of our world, a world so beautiful but also broken, give him a share of your wisdom so that he can know what is good and give him the courage to always do what is right.”

“Lord, protect our president and our vice-president and their families in their service to us all. Finally we thank you for the blessings of peace and of liberty,” Obrien added. “We honor the sacrifices of so many in our military, in our foreign service, in civil service who safeguard these blessings daily. And we renew our pledge as citizens to join them in that noble labor to always work for the common good…”


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