In honor of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College established the Malcolm/King Leadership Award in 1990 – along with the Malcolm/King Breakfast, which always takes place on the last Friday in February.

The annual award ceremony celebrates and honors the mission set forth by Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of peace, equality, and freedom, and highlights the talent, determination, and success of John Jay students and to uplift our next generation of leaders. The honoree is recognized as someone who engages in social activism, strives for academic excellence, and fosters an awareness of solutions to the many social issues that affect the communities in which they live, work, and engage.

The honoree for this year’s event was our very own Jaraed Thomas, Director of Academic Initiatives and Experiential Education. Mr. Thomas is an alum of John Jay, class of 2015, and was awarded the Malcolm/King Leadership award scholarship back as a student in 2014. He will be the first Alumni winner to be an honoree in the 33-year history of the award!

A quote from Mr. Thomas about this recognition: ‘As you start to rack up the years in your career, your focus is on the work and the impact. I am honored and humbled to receive an award that shows, that people are looking at my talents and work. This honor comes at the right time in my career to reenergize my focus, and give me a happier outlook on my future career endeavors. I feel like I can do anything now!” 

Past honorees have been the Honorable Ernest D. Davis, Charles Dutton, Reverend Dr. James Forbes, David Lamb, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Faith Ringgold, Dr. Betty Shabazz, and Cicely Tyson. Past keynote speakers have been Harry Belafonte, Derrick Bell, Ossie Davis, Danny Glover, Woodie King Jr., President Nelson Mandela, Gil Noble, Phylicia Rashad, Sonia Sanchez, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Congressman Edolphus Towns.