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Page last updated on November 1, 2021 at 6:55 am

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award recognizes and affirms those who have made significant and tangible contributions in the areas of race relations, justice, and human rights. The award is presented annually at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration to the Monroe County resident, business, or advocacy group selected by the City of Bloomington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission.

2021 Winner: Marvin Q. Jones Jr.

Marvin Q. Jones, Jr. lives a life that is a reflection of the values of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is committed to serving his community, particularly as an example of Black excellence, putting forth his best efforts as a STEM scholar and educator, a leader, and a man of faith, honor, and civility.

As Vice President of the Sigma Kappa Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Marvin has worked with his fraternity brothers to establish and sustain programs and activities that can meet the needs of marginalized groups in the city of Bloomington. For example, Marvin spearheaded an initiative called Streets Paved with Gold that allowed fraternity members to interact with families in the Crestmont community and provide academic, employment, health, and other resources to them in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club. Marvin has also been instrumental in developing curriculum and mentorship opportunities for young men in the community through the fraternity’s signature program, the Nelms Leadership Academy. Marvin’s commitment to service through his fraternity led to the chapter being named Chapter of the Year for two consecutive years and Marvin being recently named Chapter Brother of the Year.

As a PhD student in astrophysics, Marvin is uniquely qualified to provide assistance in subject areas including science and mathematics that are often challenging for many students, particularly at the higher level. Many adults do not have the proficiency to help high school students taking advanced mathematics, and oftentimes tutoring services are expensive. Further, among individuals who have the proficiency, not all have the temperament, skill set, and willingness to encourage and join with students. We have witnessed Marvin display these characteristics firsthand as he volunteers with the Bethel AME Homework Help program, which provides free assistance for students K-12 in the Bloomington community. After volunteering with the program during the 2014-2015 academic year, Marvin became a coordinator of the program. He has taken a leading role in structuring the program, planning and executing events, helping students develop goals and plan study schedules, and meeting with parents to co-facilitate ways to set students up for success. Marvin has helped many students complete homework, prepare for exams, and better understand upper level math and science through this program and by creating an additional weekly high school math tutoring group. Marvin, therefore, fills a critical gap by providing assistance to multiple students through a free program. When he interacts with students, he is patient, engaging, and able to break down complex concepts in new ways. Students clearly look forward to working with him, and both they and their parents have often expressed their very strong appreciation for him.

In addition, Marvin was elected vice president of the Black Graduate Student Association in 2015, a student organization that promotes academic excellence, professional development and civic engagement. In this role, Marvin was instrumental in collaborative leadership efforts, including a literacy initiative for Fairview Elementary School. Marvin also led on-campus movements as a student activist in the wake of racially charged incidents that occurred as IU students, staff, and faculty stood in solidarity with University of Missouri students in 2015. Marvin planned and facilitated meetings with students and administrators and mobilized members of the BGSA and the greater IU community to create a unified front and improve the campus racial climate. During this time, Marvin exemplified many characteristics of one of his greatest inspirations, Bayard Rustin, a strategist and organizer for Dr. King. Although Rustin did not receive a lot of credit for his work, he was behind-the-scenes doing what was necessary to aid Dr. King during the Movement. Like Rustin, Marvin is humble and willing to stand in the shadows if it means working to improve conditions of life for his brothers and sisters.

Marvin is very tactful, organized, and driven. His peers and colleagues admire him for these qualities. Marvin works tirelessly for the organizations in which he serves. A transformational leader in his own right, he never hesitates to put others' needs before his own.

Ultimately, Marvin is the quintessence of being involved. Previously a high school math teacher and currently studying astrophysics as a PhD student at Indiana University, Marvin is no stranger to hard work and a hefty challenge. In the midst of a rigorous program of study, Marvin has been intent on serving his community and providing critical support to students of all ages across multiple service efforts. But, he does not merely serve. He is very genuinely present – he makes students, peers, and colleagues feel known, valued, and appreciated. Marvin demonstrates that being involved is not merely about doing the work; it is about the building of relationships and community, both of which are undoubtedly dear to his heart. He is very deserving of this honor. 

See all past award recipients


  1. The nominee has been personally or corporately involved in making tangible, visible, and meaningful contributions to the advancement of race relations, justice, and/or human rights causes.
  2. The nominee must have been a Monroe County resident, business, or advocacy group for at least one year.

Nomination Process

  1. Anyone can make a nomination.
  2. The Deadline for submitting nominations is December 1, 2021.
  3. Nominations may be made online only. Nominate Here!

Selection Process

  1. The Award Committee reviews all nominations and recommends finalists for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission to consider. The Commission makes the final selection. Any member of either the Award Committee or Commission who is nominated for the award must excuse themselves from discussions and voting during the selection process. Likewise, any immediate family members must also excuse themselves from the decision-making process.
  2. The Award Committee shall notify the winner in January and invite the winner to attend the Birthday Celebration.
  3. The Mayor of the City of Bloomington or the Chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Commission will present the award at the Birthday Celebration.