The MLK Unity Awards are held for the third year.
On Saturday, Ellis County residents Elmerine Bell and Billie Wallace were selected and recognized with the 2021 Martin Luther King Unity Award.
This honor has been awarded since 2019, highlighting community members and their dedication to the community.
Dr. Jamal Rasheed, president and CEO of the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame, presented the awards to the nominees in the Ellis County African American Hall of Fame building.
“The Martin Luther King Unity Award is given every year to those persons who serve the community in the same spirit as Dr. King, in search of freedom, justice and equality in one form or fashion, as an individual or collectively with another group. These people do it as unsung heroes. They don’t do it for credit, they don’t do it for power, they don’t do it for a pat on the back, they don't do it for money, but they do it in the same spirit as Dr. King did it,” stated Rasheed, before placing a medal on both award recipients.
“I am very honored. I am so proud for what Dr. Rasheed is doing here in Waxahachie and for Ellis County,” said Bell. “I am a proponent on authentic history, and I think that nothing should be hidden. Whatever happened, we should celebrate and move from there. I think this building, this is history, and where it is in East Waxahachie, it’s something that’s very needed. I encourage all of the teachers in Ellis County to use this as a resource for history and making sure our children know it’s available.”
Bell is currently an Italian resident. According to a news release, for the past decade, Bell has served as an appointed member of the Italy Economic Development Commission and the Ellis County Historical Commission. She is also a member of the Ellis County Genealogical Society and Stafford School Alumni Association and is leader of a group called Save St. Mary Cemetery. "An avid genealogist and historian, her goal is to chronicle authentic history so that it is preserved for future generations," the release reads. "She is currently working on the restoration of a building in Italy which was once the Italy Colored City Hall, and will house a museum and be marked with an Official State of Texas Historical Marker. In May 2019, Elmerine Allen Bell was elected to serve on the Italy, Texas City Council where she continues to represent local constituency.”
The other award recipient, Wallace, is the current president for the Waxahachie Rotary Club.
“It’s an honor to receive this award because this award just lets me know that I’m doing a lot of the right things in Waxahachie and in my community ... I graduated high school here. Love the entire city ... and receiving this award just lets me know that I’m doing a lot of things right. The things I wanna do with my heart. So it’s a checks and balance thing receiving this award," said Wallace.
Wallace has served in rotary around seven years and started a nonprofit called Waxahachie Have It or Leave It, which has more than 1,700 volunteers who assist families in need.
“We will continue to move throughout all parts of the city, not leaving any part of the city out because every part of Waxahachie ... is equally important," stated Wallace.