January 14, 2016
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is Monday, Jan. 18, but the University will hold its annual celebration on Thursday, Jan. 21, after students, faculty and staff have returned for the spring semester.
The day begins with the 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Brunch (sold out). The event celebrates Dr. King's life and legacy and honors WCU alumni whose professional lives and vocational activities have reflected Dr. King's ideals. This year's honored Drum Majors for Justice are Kia Butler '00 and retired Colonel James E. Williams, Jr. '59.
The title Drum Major for Justice is taken from one of Dr. King's sermons, which he gave in 1968, the same year he was assassinated. In that speech, Dr. King spoke about his life and how he wanted to be remembered: "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. … If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness."
Kia Butler '00 has been passionately involved in the lives of children since she was a pre-teen, helping out in Sunday school classes at Grace Presbyterian Church in Jenkintown. Toddlers were her favorites. She continued working with children as a counselor at a local YMCA camp.
While earning her bachelor's degree in sociology at West Chester, she volunteered at West Chester Kindred House for homeless families and was involved in community service projects as a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. In 2010, she received her master's in education from the University of Phoenix.
Butler began her career at Progressions, a Philadelphia-area behavioral health agency where she worked with children ages 5 to 15. In 2003, she joined Northern Children's Services (Roxborough) as a school-based case manager until 2006, when she was promoted to supervisor of school-based case managers. In 2008, she became director of Community-Based Programs, which includes truancy prevention, community change initiative, the After-School Beacon program and juvenile justice prevention, programs that assist nearly 3,000 children throughout Philadelphia and surrounding counties. Currently, Butler is Director of Foster Care at Northern.
Her enthusiasm and drive have kept her focused on the needs of at-risk children who often are overlooked by society. "If you change the life of one child, you have changed the world," says Butler. Her dedication is evident in an interview that aired in October 2015 on WHYY's NewsWorks.
Retired U.S. Army Col. James E. Williams, Jr., '59, a prostate cancer survivor diagnosed in 1991, has been active as an advocate for 23 years. After retiring from the military, he became a senior professional in human resources and is now principal of Jim Williams and Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in prostate cancer awareness, education and advocacy.
Williams is chair of the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition; immediate past chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council and Vice President of the ICC Caucus; and a board member of the Dauphin County (Pa.) State Health Improvement Plan, the Alliance for Prostate Cancer Prevention.
The American Association for Cancer Research has recognized him for his enduring commitment. He serves on the editorial board of their CR Magazine for cancer survivors, families and caregivers.
He has been honored by the National Institutes of Health for his service on the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for his leadership in developing a comprehensive cancer control plan; and by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs for his work on the National Prostate Cancer Project.
Williams has appeared on NBC's "Weekend Today" and was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine in an article on prostate cancer treatment and prevention. He holds a B.S. in education from WCU and an M.S. in secondary education and administration from Siena College.