Dix and GHS senior being honored at King prayer breakfast

In this file photo, Pastor George Dix preaches to his congregation at Passage Family Church, in Gainesville, Sept. 4, 2011.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 5:25 p.m.

A Gainesville High School senior who has overcome many obstacles on his way to graduating from high school will receive the inaugural Drum Major for Justice Scholarship Award at the 6th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast to commemorate the civil rights leader's assassination.


If you go

What: The 6th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his assassination.
When: 8 a.m. April 4.
Where: Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel, 4200 NW 97th Blvd.
Tickets: $30 each or $300 for a table for 10; deadline to buy tickets is Tuesday.
Information: Call 376-2442.

The breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Best Western Gateway Grand Hotel at 4200 NW 97th Blvd. Tickets are $30 each and $300 for a table for 10. The deadline to purchase tickets is Tuesday.

The breakfast is sponsored by the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Florida and the Alachua County branch of the NAACP. The breakfast this year commemorates the 45th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. King, who was shot on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis.

This year, the Drum Major for Justice Award will be awarded to George B. Dix, senior pastor at Passage Family Church in Gainesville. The scholarship award will go to Freddy Holmes Jr.

Instead of a speaker this year, there will be a viewing of "The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306," a documentary by the Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles that focuses on the last hours of King's life. Kyles, who has served as pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis since 1959, was on the balcony near King when he was shot.

Rodney Long, president and founder of the King Commission, said the sponsors of the breakfast will award the scholarship for the first time, after fine-tuning the criteria.

"This is something we have been discussing for several years," said Long, adding that the criteria for the scholarship includes excelling in school while overcoming obstacles in life.

Diyonne McGraw, vice president of the 4As, said Holmes, who will receive a scholarship worth a minimum of $500, changed his attitude toward school and his life after almost being expelled.

"Freddy got into some serious trouble, and then a light came on for him and he turned his life around," McGraw said. "He became serious about school and has been maintaining a 3.0 or above GPA ever since. He kept going and didn't give up, even though he was in a bad situation."

Long said Dix will be honored for his dedication and commitment to ensuring that children in Gainesville, especially in east Gainesville, have an opportunity to get a quality education. The award is given each year to a man or woman of the clergy who embodies principles espoused by King.

"Pastor Dix was chosen for his philanthropic approach to education, especially for his dedication to helping those that are underprivileged get a good education," said Long, citing a $100,000 donation Dix and his church gave several years ago to the Alachua County School Board.

Long also said Dix and his congregation volunteer countless hours at elementary schools in east Gainesville, while also operating Passage Christian Academy, a private school at 5121 E. University Ave. that serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Pastor Dix is a man of God who believes that every child should have a chance to get a quality education, and he and his congregation show that they believe in that with their resources and time," Long said.

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