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2/16/2014 11:54:00 AM
Parish honors those who further justice
St. Andrew Parish photos
Edna Hicks shows award.
St. Andrew Parish photos
Edna Hicks shows award.
Jean Eilers addresses congregation.
Jean Eilers addresses congregation.

St. Andrew Parish held its 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Awards ceremony last month. The parish hands out the awards to organizations and individuals who demonstrate leadership that addresses racial and economic injustice in Portland.

This year’s award recipients were activist and educator Jean Eilers and Edna Hicks, Portland Public Schools educator.  

Eilers taught children from elementary to high school for 21 years. She worked as an activist for farmworkers in California alongside Cesar Chavez, other workers in Oregon at Providence Hospital and with security guards, Jobs for Justice and the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good. She worked to ensure workers were treated with dignity, respect and received fair wages. She maintained her commitment to social justice despite hardships, including serving time in jail for her protests of the conditions of workers.

Hicks, a former educator with Portland Public Schools was known for reaching out to children with perceived learning barriers. She taught them how to read, learn, and compete with their peers within the span of a school year.  

She was one of the first leaders of the African-American Catholic Community of Oregon, Ladies of St. Peter Claver, and one of the founders of the St. Andrew Gospel choir. Hicks and her friend Mary Harvey of Immaculate Heart Church began a Vacation Bible School 30 years ago to provide a safe learning environment for children in late summer when there were limited to no programs available.

The recipients were recognized at two Masses at St. Andrew Parish.

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