Washington: An eminent Indian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist has been presented with the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr Award in recognition of his contribution to the legacy of the great leader through his efforts in international service and civil engagement.
Azamgarh-born Frank Islam was given the annual award yesterday by Harry Johnson president of the Memorial Foundation for working to keep the "dream alive." Noting that there is an "indelible connection" between Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, Islam said he was proud and humbled to have received the award.
"King visited India in 1954, studied the non-violent movement and patterned the protests he led after those of Gandhi. As an Indian-American, I am proud and humbled to receive this award which honours the memory of one great man directly and another indirectly," he said.
"King and Gandhi have been beacons to me in my personal life and charitable and philanthropic involvement. I have given to numerous causes to support humanitarian efforts and to advance the interests of the under-served in the world," Islam said in his speech. King Peggy (Peggieliene Bartel) was honoured with Dorothy I Height Leadership Award.
The annual awards ceremony was started in 1991 to honour the legacy of the famed civil right leader Martin Luther King Jr and the legendary Dorothy I Height and their impacts both at home and abroad. Born in Azamgarh to a peasant father, Islam moved to US when he was only 15 years old, with less than USD 500 in his pocket, to become a successful entrepreneur.
He bought a struggling IT company in Maryland in 1993 with USD 50,000 raised by mortgaging his house. Islam sold of his IT company in 2007 to spent rest of his life in philanthropy, both in India and the US and lends his palatial house for fund raising activities - for both political and charitable events. He is a board member of several think tanks, academic and cultural organisations including Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts, the Brookings Institute and US Institute of Peace.