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King breakfast honors racial harmony

Sam Bone, a longtime resident of Las Cruces and current executive committee member of the New Mexico State Conference NAACP, was honored with the 2005 Racial Harmony Award at the 19th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast hosted by New Mexico State University's Black Programs Office Jan 21.

Sam Bone was honored with the 2005 Racial Harmony Award at the 19th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast hosted by New Mexico State University's Black Programs Office Jan 21. (NMSU photo by Greg Mays)

"It is an honor to receive this award in conjunction with the many people who have received it before me," Bone said. "This award is a symbol of people working together."

Bone, a native of Madison County, Ala., was the only one of 12 brothers and sisters to graduate from college, receiving a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University. After college he went to work for the U.S. Department of Defense at White Sands Missile Range. He also continued his education by taking graduate courses at NMSU and the University of Michigan.

He said he was honored to meet King when he was a student at the University of Tennessee and feels that King's dream lives on today.

"His dream lives today in all of you here to celebrate his life and what he stood for," Bone said. "I look at this award as somebody trying to make a difference. I have tried to make a difference. I ask all the students here today to make a pledge to make a difference in the life of someone."

Clayborne Carson, director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University and the featured speaker at the breakfast, agreed. "We should search for moral leadership by first looking in the mirror," he said.
Carson encouraged the audience to remember all of the courageous young people who fought for the civil rights movement.

"We need to tell future generations how their lives were made better by the struggles of many young people who came before them," Carson said. "Great ideals can only be achieved by the mobilization of large numbers of people willing to struggle for justice."

Bone served as president for the Dona Ana Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for four years, first vice president of the New Mexico State Conference NAACP for 14 years and the state president for 12 years.

Following his retirement from White Sands Missile Range after 34 years, Bone was hired as the executive director of the New Mexico Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. For nine years, he conducted anti-violence workshops at schools, churches and community centers throughout the state. These workshops dealt with a variety of issues that contribute to violence, including drugs, gangs and alcohol.

Bone has received the NAACP Award for Outstanding Leadership Toward Freedom, the Las Cruces Citizen of the Year, the NAACP Award for Unselfish Devotion, the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, the White Sands Missile Range Commanding General's Award for Outstanding Achievement in promoting Minority Programs and the I Have a Dream Award for Service to Native American Youth.

Racial Harmony Awards are awarded by Black Programs annually to people who have promoted racial harmony and been supportive of students. Nominations are made by students and the directors of NMSU's ethnic programs make the final selections.