Ish Burks, who recently returned to the helm of Jefferson Community & Technical College's Criminal Justice program, will be awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom by Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer.
The award, among the city's highest honors, will be presented Sunday, Jan. 27, during the Keepers of the Dream community arts celebration at the Kentucky Center. Burks, assistant professor and program chairman for Criminal Justice, was on loan to Metro Louisville where he served as both interim police chief, following the departure of the previous chief, and as interim chief of public safety from 2011 until late 2012.
Ish Burks is not only widely respected in the criminal justice and education fields, he has a reputation for directness, commitment and compassion in making this city and state a better place, Fischer said.
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 State Rep. Darryl Owens, 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.
Presented by Norton Healthcare, the Freedom Award is a blown glass art piece designed and created by Ch Rhodes, associate professor, Head of Glass, University of Louisville Hite Art Institute.
I can think of few people more deserving than Ish Burks, said Tony Newberry, JCTC president and CEO. He is not only a role model for students but also a role model for all of us.
Burks, a Louisville native and Shawnee High School graduate, was selected by the mayor for the interim posts because of his extensive background in policing and public safety. He also has an extensive background in community service.
A retired Army Colonel with a distinguished career, Burks also was former Commissioner for the Kentucky State Police.
He has a bachelor s degree from Lincoln University in Missouri and a master's degree in Education from Indiana University and a master's in criminology from City University of New York.
Sunday s Keepers of the Dream celebration is free and open to the public. It begins at 5:00pm in Whitney Hall at The Kentucky Center. Preshow activities will be in the lobby from 4 to 4:45pm.