While many paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy by visiting his memorial, Keshia Knight Pulliam spent time to recognize individuals nationwide who like King, played an active role in local communities. In partnering with Allstate Insurance, Pulliam announced and awarded four distinguished volunteers as a way to celebrate the annual celebration, National Give Back Day.
“His (Martin Luther King Jr.) whole life and death was about giving to others and it was about creating a better space and a better place for all humankind. With that alone, he gave his life for me and many others to have the opportunities that we all have today,” Pulliam explained.
As a Spelman College graduate, class of 2001, Keshia Knight Pulliam attributed her devotion and appreciation to community service as a result of her affiliation with the Bonner scholarship, a community-service based award.
Pulliam explained, “For me, community service is really important. It’s something that has been in my life for so very long. I went to an HBCU, Spelman College and while there I was a Bonner scholar, which is a community service based scholarship. I just recognized that I didn’t get to where I am by myself and that it’s important for me to give back and to pay it forward.”
In order to ‘pay it forward,’ Pulliam promoted acts of community service by publicizing those individuals who devoted their time to considerable change in varying communities. Referred to as National Give Back Day Heroes, individuals including Jackie Lomax from Chicago, Freedom Wright from Atlanta, and Margaret Dixon from Oakland, were all chosen for by assuaging the disparities facing disadvantaged minorities through acts of volunteerism.
Freedom Wright, 17 and the youngest of the heroes, grew up in the foster care system. Aware of the challenges that foster care children tend to face, Wright transferred her altruism into a project, Free Your Mind, which raised money with a backpack drive for children undergoing the foster care system.
“I understood what type of emotions those children were going through so I wanted my project to focus on helping those children,” commented Wright.
According to Knight Pulliam, Freedom Wright’s actions certainly honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Like King, the National Give Back Day heroes actively work to alter injustices in their local environment.
“What I think is the greatest thing about the people who Allstate has chosen to be the Give Back Day heroes is that they saw a need in their community and they didn’t wait around for someone to fill that void or for someone to do it,” Pulliam noted.
She further explained, “They (heroes) said ‘I can help so I’m going to give up myself and my talent or whatever it is that I can do, however big or small to make a difference.’ It was also really important to me that they(heroes) were not nominated and they didn’t seek this honor. They did what was in their hearts.”
Craig Keller, director of public social responsibility at Allstate, claimed that such acts made the heroes noteworthy enough to be recognized as a part of King’s legacy. “Their concern and their care for their communities was something that Dr. King embodied and as a result they displayed a great level of social responsibility, a characteristic that Allstate deemed as imperative to be called a ‘hero.”