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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.

2019 Winner: Dr. Gladys DeVane

Dr. Gladys DeVane has thirty eight years of teaching, administrative and civic experience.  She has served in numerous local, state and national committees, boards, and commissions, thus she brings to the table a wealth of experience and expertise across a wide range of activities.  Civic leadership and participation at the local and state levels include, but are not limited to, membership and service to; Bloomington Hospital Advisory Board; Bloomington, Developmental Center Board of Directory; Bloomington Youth Shelter Board of Directors; Stone Belt Center Board of Directors, Indiana Association for Retarded Citizens. Bloomington's Playwright's Project Board of Directors. She has a commitment to justice and a passion of service to others.  Gladys has worked tirelessly as a supporter of and advocating for people with disabilities. Gladys was invaluable as a speech, language, hearing clinician for the Monroe County Community School Corporation, she worked with elementary, secondary and high school students, their parents and teachers.


While working full time, raising a family and earning an advanced degree, Gladys co-founded "Better Living for Special People" (now called Life Designs) an organization that provides group homes, apartments and assisted living for people with developmental disabilities.  In addition, Gladys has served on the National Speech and Hearing Association Diversity Committee which she Chaired, Indiana Association for Retarded Citizens Board of Directors, Kelley School of Business Diversity Advisory Board, Center for Human Growth Board of Directors. Most recently Gladys became a member of KAP (Kids with Absent Parents). As an actor, stroyteller, writer and narrator she has performed in mainstage plays, storytelling events and stage readings. She has provided "voice-over" and narratives for documentaries and has written and performed numerous plays depicting the lives and struggles of real African American people. In celebration of Indiana's bicentennial, Gladys co-wrote, produced and performed in Reslilience: Indiana's Untold Story and most recently wrote a play for Monroe County's bicentennial "Stories of Monroe" both of which had sold out performances.


This community would suffer from a huge void without Dr. Gladys DeVane. Her enthusiasm for writing, telling and acting out the stories of African Americans in and out of out community has made a tremendous impact.  Her devotion to the special needs community is unmeasuable. As a member of KAP, Gladys is there to do what she can in assisting the innocent children who are suffering when their parent or parents are incarcerated, leaving them to most likely live in poverty, have depression and anxiety. Gladys has lived a life committed to justice and a passion for serving others, this is why she was honored as an elder in Stephana L Colbert's book, "Ordinary Extraordinary African American Women: The Elders." Gladys received the Living Legends Award in 2012 along with numerous other awards since arriving in Bloomington in the 1960's because of her deep community involvement and service to others. 

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 3, 2019.
  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.