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When Carlos Graham thinks of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, he is wont to focus on the word "perseverance."

And Graham, one of Jefferson City's Ward 4 city councilmen, often does think of King as he goes about his workaday life as campus and community liaison for Lincoln University, he says.

Appropriately, Graham received the 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award at Lincoln's King Celebration. The award recognizes the Lincoln faculty or staff member whose work furthers the principles of King.

He says of the slain civil rights icon, "As a child growing up in Alabama, there was so much about Dr. King and his life to learn — his courage, vision, strength and his humanity. But it was his perseverance that has made the most profound impact on me. Dr. King's perseverance allowed him not only to achieve success, but also to give us all hope for a better life in the world.

"I hope each of us (has) an appreciation that, if Dr. King was here today, he would encourage us to persevere and keep moving," Graham says. "He would remind us that 'freedom is not free,' never give up and yet the dream remains alive; that success does not come without sacrifice."

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Graham earned a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and joined the Lincoln staff in 1997 as a residential services director. He served 17 years in the university student housing department, including as its director from 2007 through 2014. In 2000, Graham completed a master of arts in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice from Lincoln.

He is a member of the Association of College and University Housing Officials, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Upper Midwest Region of Housing Officers. Graham is a past president of the Jefferson City Host Lions Club, chairman of the American Red Cross of Central and Northern Missouri, and is a board member of the Capital Region Medical Center, Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, and the United Way Leadership Committee. 

His memberships include the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the Ensley Rising Star Masonic Lodge No. 19 at Russellville, Alabama.

The Drum Major recipient also is co-owner of Brew House Coffee and Bistro in the Village Square on East McCarty.

Graham's honor was well received by his colleagues on the City Council.

Ken Hussey, Ward 3 councilman, said of Graham, "The award recognized Carlos for his service and dedication to Lincoln University and the community, recognizing him as someone who lives out the legacy of Dr. King," Hussey said. "I appreciated Carlos's charge to all of us to live out this same legacy in our community every day. I am proud to serve with him on the council and proud to call him my friend."

And, of the Drum Major award winner, Mayor Carrie Tergin said, "This was an opportunity to showcase what Carlos is about, evident in his powerful speech as he humbly and proudly accepted his award. Councilman Graham and I shared Ward 4 when I was a councilwoman, and I witnessed firsthand his complete dedication to public service and to the constituents and families.

"Now, as mayor, I value Carlos as an asset to the entire city, and the Drum Major Award fits him nicely, using his leadership and his voice to make Jefferson City better," Tergin said.

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