Madison Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi awarded recipients Monday with city-county humanitarian awards honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
Judge and pastor Everett Mitchell and Rev. Dr. Carmen Porco received this year’s City-County Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian awards.
Recipients of Madison-Dane County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian awards are individuals who have demonstrated leadership and volunteerism while promoting peace and communication between diverse populations in Dane County, according to the city of Madison website.
Mitchell is both a Dane County Circuit Court judge and a senior pastor at a Madison church. He has formerly served as an assistant district attorney in Dane County and a restorative justice coordinator for Madison-Area Urban Ministry.
“I work to address the persistent injustice I see in the courtroom,” he said. “As soon as I got elected to be judge, I decided I’m going to use my power to do what I know is right.”
Mitchell says he practices his commitment to justice and equity in church as well, noting that he was the first black pastor of a Baptist church to marry a same-sex couple.
Porco is the head of the Housing Ministries of American Baptists in Wisconsin. He founded several community centers and is the executive director of a housing program, both of which he says focus on improving the lives of low-income students and residents.
He says we need to promote justice in a more systematic way, examining the relationship among public institutions and populations vulnerable to profiling.
“This is the century that we must invert things,” Porco said. We must discover the truth and the dignity of poor people’s ability to make significant contributions on an everyday basis to society, and not think they’re just the recipients.”
The awards are presented annually on MLK Day and sponsored by the King Coalition of Madison and Dane County, a community group that plans official city and county observances commemorating the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.