Panion to receive social justice award

The Drum Major for Justice Award is given to people who carry on the philosophy, vision and mission of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

henry_panion_storyUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Professor Henry Panion III, Ph.D., will receive the 34th annual Drum Major for Justice Award by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now (WOMEN) Inc. in Atlanta, Ga.

The SCLC/WOMEN award ceremony recognizes strong global present-day “Drum Majors” who carry on the philosophy, vision and mission of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and advance the social justice cause in their respective fields. The awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel.

Panion, an award-winning producer, composer, arranger, orchestrator and conductor, is a professor of music in the UAB Department of Music. He has worked with a venerable list of artists, including superstar Stevie Wonder, gospel star Kirk Franklin, vocal sensation Chaka Khan and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, as well as more than 50 different orchestras throughout the world. Those include England’s Royal Philharmonic, Russia’s Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, Japan’s Tokyo Philharmonic and America’s National Symphony Orchestra.

Previous recipients of the award have included Samuel L. Jackson, Cicely Tyson, Sean Penn, Bill Cosby, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Lou Rawls, Coretta Scott-King, Evander Holyfield, C. Delores Tucker, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Harry Belafonte, Angela Bassett, James Brown, Gov. Doug Wilder, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Dick Gregory, Phylicia Rashad and Oprah Winfrey.

Founded in 1979, the nonprofit organization provides an array of services to improve and empower at-risk and low-income families. Programs include youth mentoring, domestic violence education, HIV/AIDS education and computer training.