Four area residents will receive Fairfield University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Vision Award during a program that honors the slain civil rights leader on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The recipients are Rev. John S. Kidd of Fairfield and Rev. Phyllis J. Leopold of Stratford, for their work with the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport; Richard Fuller Sr. of Norwalk, for his leadership with the George Washington Carver Foundation, Inc. in Norwalk; and Andre C. Willis of New Haven, for his contributions as an educator.

The award recognizes their “tireless effort to instill and inspire the teachings and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. in today’s youth.” Patricia J. Williams, J.D., and James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Colombia University School of Law and a widely published author, will speak on “Seeing a Color-Blind Future.” The program is open to the public.

Executive Director of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport since 1983, Rev. Kidd led the Council’s efforts in 1995 to bring religious and community leaders together to address the issues of segregation in Connecticut raised by the Sheff vs. O’Neil case. The Council’s efforts to engage people from various religions and backgrounds in relationships and dialogue led to the Bridge Building Initiative.

Rev. Leopold has served as director of the Bridge Building Initiative since 1999, organizing, marketing, and implementing 50 “Community Dialogues” that engaged over 1,000 participants. The dialogues have helped to heal racial and religious divisions. Under her leadership, the Bridge Building Board expanded from six community advisors and six dislogue facilitators to 15 advisors and 100 facilitators from diverse backgrounds.

Richard N. Fuller Sr. has served as executive director of the George Washington Carver Foundation, Inc., in Norwalk since 1978, where he has helped thousands of urban youth develop their job and study skills, self-esteem, knowledge and confidence needed to reach their full potential. His efforts to bring hundreds of urban minority students to tour historically Black and Connecticut colleges has resulted in two-thirds of the participating students receiving post-secondary degrees or diplomas.

Andre C. Willis, an instructor in religious studies at Fairfield University who is completing his doctorate at Harvard University, has spent much of his teaching career helping young people learn about the African American experience.

At the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., he taught courses in “African American Religious Strategies” and “Visions of Community in African American Religious Thought” and was named the W.E.B. Du Bois visiting Instructor there. He was a Teaching Fellow both in Yale University’s philosophy department and at Harvard College where he was the Head Teaching Fellow for Professor Cornel West.

Dr. Willis is the author of the book, “Faith of our fathers: African-American Men Reflect on Fatherhood.”

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