Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie & Monsignor Charles Owen Rice Honored With 2012 Spirit of King Awards

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie and Monsignor Charles Owen Rice were honored today at the 2012 Spirit of King Award Ceremony, held at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty.

The Spirit of King Award, established in 1989 by the Kingsley Association, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Pittsburgh Pirates, posthumously honors the lifetime achievements of local citizens who pursue human rights and equality in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Edna B. McKenzie was a reporter, educator, historian, author and advocate for social change. In the 1940s, she was one of the Pittsburgh Courier’s first female reporters, working tirelessly to expose discrimination and social injustice. Dr. McKenzie later had a distinguished academic career, establishing and chairing the department of Black, Minority & Ethnic Studies at the Community College of Allegheny County. Her legacy includes stints on many boards and committees devoted to higher education, as well as numerous articles and two books, Freedom in the Midst of a Slave Society and Selected Essays on Contemporary African-American Issues. Dr. McKenzie died in June 2005.

Monsignor Charles Owen Rice used his position as a Roman Catholic priest to fight against racism and champion the labor movement. His advocacy was expressed through radio programs he hosted as well as weekly articles in the Pittsburgh Catholic. Monsignor Rice was also an active member of the NAACP and an advocate for equality for African-American workers. In 1967, he walked arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the United Nations building to protest the Vietnam War, and later spoke at the March on the Pentagon protest rally, throughout the years articulating a Catholic vision of social justice and responsibility. Monsignor Rice died in November 2005.

To learn more about Dr. McKenzie and Monsignor Rice, as well as past Spirit of King honorees, visit our Spirit of King webpage at