At the dinner, which is expected to draw more than 450 members and friends of the Boston College community, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, will present the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. The scholarship is given annually to a Boston College junior of African descent whose achievements echo the spirit of the slain civil rights leader. It covers three-quarters of the student's tuition for senior year.
This year's scholarship finalists are Aisha Bain of Baltimore; Saya Hillman of Evanston, Ill.; Nicole Spain of Englewood, NJ; and Raquel Webster of Boston.
Rev. Hammond, pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, is widely recognized as a leading figure in the fight against youth violence and drug abuse. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has called him "a hero of the neighborhoods."
"He has devoted his life to saving lives, first in the medical profession, now in the church," said Learning to Learn Director Dan Bunch, an event organizer.
Rev. Hammond is chairman of the Ten Point Coalition, an ecumenical group of Christian clergy and lay leaders working to mobilize Boston's Christian community around issues affecting African-American youth.
The Philadelphia native graduated from Harvard University at the age of 19 and went on to receive a medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He spent 15 years as an emergency room physician at Cape Cod Hospital.
Ordained a minister in 1976, Rev. Hammond received a master's degree in religious studies from Harvard in 1982, and left medicine after founding Bethel AME Church in 1988. His wife, the Rev. Dr. Gloria White-Hammond, is a pediatrician as well as his co-pastor.
Rev. Hammond serves on the boards of the Boston Globe and Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, and is a trustee of the Boston Plan for Excellence and Catholic Charities of Boston. He also serves on the executive committee of the Black Ministerial Alliance and on the leadership council of the United Way's Success By Six program, among other affiliations.
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