Columbia Urban League honors CIU President during Black History Month commemoration

Plaque presentation by J.T. McLawhorn to Mark Smith

Plaque presentation by J.T. McLawhorn to Mark Smith

Columbia International University President Dr. Mark Smith was surprised during CIU’s observance of Black History Month, when Columbia Urban League president and CEO James T. McLawhorn Jr. honored him with a commemorative plaque acknowledging Smith’s prestigious “Bridge Builder Award” that was first presented to him in November at the Urban League’s 54th annual Fund Campaign & Equal Opportunity Day Dinner.

The plaque recognizes the efforts of CIU to be a positive influence in its own Monticello Road neighborhood where Smith has met with community group leaders and local pastors to discuss improvements.

“You can’t serve if you don’t know the needs and get with the groups in the community and have common ground,” Smith said. “I believe we’re called to love each other and lift each other up.”

CIU has led clean-up days along Monticello Road, purchased blighted properties that were then torn down, and is working to bring needed businesses to the neighborhood.

As Smith received the plaque he noted his friendship with McLawhorn and how they joined with area pastors to pray for peace and racial reconciliation in the spring of 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Black History Month is commemorated at CIU with a week of special chapels featuring messages from African American pastors, CIU’s gospel worship team and important moments in Black history.

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