The College of Communication and Information honored the Rev. Harold Middlebrook—a pastor and Civil rights activist who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr.—with the CCI Diversity Award at the college’s ninth annual Experience Diversity Banquet on Friday, February 17, 2017.
The banquet was held at 7 p.m. at Buddy’s Banquet Hall in Knoxville. The banquet is a key fundraiser for CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society field trips and other activities students have the opportunity to participate in throughout the year.
Middlebrook first became involved in the civil rights movement as a student at Morehouse College in the 1960s. He first met King at Morehouse and later served as the youth minister for Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where King and his father had both been pastors.
Throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, Middlebrook continued to pastor churches and work with civil rights groups in various roles. In 1968 while an assistant pastor at Middle Baptist Church in Memphis, Middlebrook worked with others to secure King’s appearance in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. He was among the group assembled at the Lorraine Motel on April 3 when King was assassinated.
Middlebrook was president of the Bolivar Human Development Corporation, an advisor to the Hardeman County Bi-Racial Commission, co-coordinator of the Hardeman County Political Action Commission, and an advisory board member to the Tennessee Public Service Commission. In 1986, he founded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Commission of Greater Knoxville, which he chaired until 2000.
“We strive to inspire our students and all those who attend the Experience Diversity Banquet to become more open and accepting,” said Alice Wirth, director of the CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society. “Rev. Dr. Middlebrook is an example of courage and determination for our students to help them make their world a better place.”