Annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon



The Philadelphia Martin Luther King, Jr. Association for Nonviolence, Inc., the first and only affiliate of the King Center in Atlanta commissioned by Mrs. Coretta Scott King hosts its Annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon January of each year in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday.  Our Awards and Benefit Luncheon is a living representation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream of a Beloved Community.  
Our Awards and Benefit Luncheon is a living representation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream of a Beloved Community. It honors a virtual Who’s Who of Drum Majors – persons and organizations whose deeds are exemplary of the fostered by Dr. King.  The luncheon is a highly visible affair, which has been attended by over 2,000 people, and is the largest luncheon in honor of Dr. King in the country.  It receives national press coverage because of the ringing of the Liberty Bell at 12:00 noon which officially inaugurates the King Holiday.
Our luncheon has also showcased a who’s who of sponsors, who support the Dream of Dr. King’s Beloved Community.  Previous Corporate Host Sponsors have included, Brown’s Family Shoprite and Pepsi Bottling Company, GMAC Mortgage Corporation, a host sponsor for three consecutive years, Citizens Bank, a host and a co-host sponsor for five year and Verizon.  Other major sponsors have included Tasty Baking Company, Independence Blue Cross, Lockheed Martin, Itron, Fedex, UPS, PECO Energy, Wakefern and the William Penn Foundation, just to name a few. The  35th Annual Awards and Benefit Luncheon and National Bell Ringing Ceremony will be held on January 15, 2018 and promises to be one filled with excitement, camaraderie and hope for the creation of a truly beloved community.  It is a major source of funding for the King Association and its youth development programs.

2018 "Drum Major Honorees

Lee Saunders, National President, AFSCME

Lee Saunders is the president of the American Federation of State, County and  Municipal Employees,  AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million members. He was elected at the union’s 40th International Convention in June 2012.

Saunders, the first African American to serve as AFSCME's president, was previously elected secretary-treasurer at the union’s 39th International Convention in July 2010.

Saunders grew up in a union household in Cleveland, Ohio. This inspired him to join the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) when he began working for the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services in 1975. His father was a bus driver and a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union. His mother was a community organizer and, after raising two sons, returned to college and became a community college  professor and a member of the American Association of University Professors.

Saunders began his career with AFSCME in 1978 as a labor economist. He has served in the capacities of assistant director of Research and Collective Bargaining Services, director of Community Action and deputy director of Organizing and Field Services. Saunders also served as executive assistant to the president of AFSCME and was  responsible for managing what is acknowledged to be one of the most effective political and legislative operations in  the history of the American labor movement.  AFSCME’s clout in fundraising and member mobilization, and its lobbying expertise are unmatched in the ranks of the AFL-CIO and beyond. 

  Under Saunders' leadership, the union has launched a program called AFSCME Strong that builds power through  internal and external organizing, and recognizes the individual contributions AFSCME members make to serving  and strengthening their communities. The program is credited with growth in AFSCME membership despite current  challenges faced by the labor movement as a whole.  

  He has served as administrator of a number of AFSCME councils and large local unions across the country.    For nearly four years, he served as administrator of AFSCME District Council 37, New York City’s largest public    employee union, representing 125,000 members. In that capacity, he was successful in restoring the fiscal health,   integrity and good name of the council and its 56 affiliated local unions.

  Saunders serves as a vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, which guides the daily work of the labor    federation; he also serves as chair of its Political Committee. He is an at-large member of the Democratic National   Committee, president of Working America and treasurer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  and a member of the the Board of Directors of the Democracy Alliance. 

  He received a Master of Arts degree from Ohio State University in 1974, a year after earning his Bachelor of Arts   degree from Ohio University. In 2002, the College of New Rochelle awarded him an honorary doctorate degree in   Humane Letters.

  Saunders and his wife Lynne live in Washington, DC, and have two sons, Lee, Jr. and Ryan.