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Hazel Erby to be Honored with MLK Spirit Award on Jan. 16

MLK 2020 poster Hazel Erby Hazel Erby, a steadfast St. Louis County politician and the current director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for St. Louis County, is the recipient of the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit Award.

The award is given annually in January by the University City Board of Education to a University City resident who works or has worked toward racial unity and justice.

Erby will be presented the honor on Thursday, Jan.16 at the District’s 34th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration inside the University City High School Auditorium. This year’s theme is Courage to Be Well, with the understanding that civil rights and social justice are the keys to wellness for all people. The event is free and open to the public and runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The event will include celebrations of Dr. King by middle and high school student dancers, and high school musicians and singers.

Terry Dr. Terry Harris will present a keynote speech. Harris is the executive director of Student Services for the Rockwood School District. He is a longtime advocate for student well-being through equity, inclusion and trauma-informed practices in schools.

Erby, a longtime University City resident, was the first African American woman elected to serve on the St. Louis County Council. She served on the council from 2004 to 2019, giving her the distinction of the longest sitting member of one of the most powerful county government’s in Missouri.

Erby also served as executive director of the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Drug and Substance Abuse, as a site director for the Caring Communities Program at Barbara C. Jordan School, and as the founder of the TAP City Program in University City which pairs teenagers with senior citizens to assist seniors with errands and chores.

Board of Education President Kristine Hendrix, Vice President Chelsea Addison and Director Matt Bellows served on the selection committee for the 2020 honor. Superintendent Dr. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley was the chair of the planning committee.