The presentation of the “Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Award” was awarded to Rev. H.K. Matthews by Dr. Lawrence E. Carter, the Dean of the Martin Luther King International Chapel at Morehouse College this past Saturday August 18th at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. The recognition was for his commitment to non-violent protest while advocating for Black equality during the civil rights movement in Pensacola, Northwest Florida, and the greater the Gulf Coast.
Dr. Lawrence E. Carter, the Dean of the Martin Luther King International Chapel at Morehouse College made the presentation and closed with these words, “Thank you for your commitment to real peace and holistic justice and to building community right here in the Florida Panhandle. Therefore I wish to forever, this afternoon, link your name to that of Gandhi, King, and Ikeda.”
Rev. Matthews responded, “Words are not at my command to express to you just how humble, thankful, and honored I feel as the recipient of this prestigious award. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this outpouring of love, gratitude and recognition.” He thanked his wife Mrs. Bobbie Matthews and said that this award really belongs to his grandmother that raised him, Ms. Lucy P. Johnson. He stated that he is standing on the shoulders of others who were and are engaged in the movement along with him like Rev. James Young, Rev. Nathaniel Smith, Rev. B.J. Brooks, K.C. Bass, Ellison Bennett, Dr. John Veasley, and Tony McCray Sr.
Matthews was born in Snow Hill, Alabama on Feb. 7, 1928. He was raised by his grandmother, Lucy P. Johnson, a school teacher, after His mother died when he was six weeks old. Matthews now lives in Brewton, Alabama.
He is still involved in speaking for the underserved and those being discriminated against by serving as the National President of the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights based in Rockville, Maryland. Ellison Bennett a fellow National Board Member serving as the Community Liaison in Florida commented that, “I believe this award to Rev. Matthews is one of the most prestigious acts of kindness and commendation to be awarded to him as a recipient of the same honor granted to Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. I told Rev. Matthews that you deserve to take your bow for a job well done as he is receiving his just due for all the good work he has done.”