Pictured bottom row from left to right: Award recipients Justin Hansford, George Fatheree III, Maxine Waters; Founder and Executive Director of the Living Legends Awards Foundation Doreen Hines; award recipient Edward Woods III. Back row, left to right: U.S. Dream Academy Executive Director Diane Wallace Booker; General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer of Baltimore Gas & Electric and Exelon Company David Ralph II; attorney Colline Silvera; General Counsel and PARL Director for Allegheny East Conference, Jackson Doggette.
Edward Woods III was honored with a Living Legend Award for Service to Humanity for his decades of advocacy for equitable representation and liberty of conscience.
The theme for the awards gala this year was “Liberty and Justice for All!” and four individuals who have been activists in the fields of law and policy were recognized. In addition to Woods, honorees were attorney Justin Hansford, attorney George Fatheree III and congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Born and raised in Berrien Springs, Michigan, Woods attended Ruth Murdoch Elementary School and Andrews Academy. He completed an undergraduate degree from Oakwood University and a master’s in public administration from Western Michigan University. He currently serves as the executive director of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was able to successfully create the first citizen-driven redistricting map that more equitably reflects the state’s demographic and geographic diversity.
Woods has also had a long history of involvement in the PARL work of the church: first, as the PARL director of his home church, Highland Avenue Seventh-day Adventist church, and later as the PARL director for Lake Region, where he initiated PARL forums and engaged with faith and civic leaders.
He was instrumental in forming the Conscience and Justice Council, launched in 2016 to encourage PARL work at the local church level and provide biblically based programs about conscience and justice issues.
In accepting the award, Woods quoted Isaiah 1:17 which is a call to “learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” And he reminded those in attendance that the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers had a history being involved in the social issues of the day and that we should continue that tradition.
Another awardee, Congresswoman Waters, thanked Woods for his remarks by stating that because of his remarks she “learned about the work of the Seventh-day Adventists….we don’t really know about the depth of the work that is being done by the Seventh-day Adventists.”
Doreen Hines, the Living Legends Awards for Service to Humanity Foundation founder and executive director said that the selection committee is always looking for people with a passion for service.
“In our research and talking to people around our faith community Edward's name came up and further research revealed his impact on the Michigan community,” she explained. “The fact that in his employment he was passionate about achieving fair and equitable treatment for all Michiganders. His work with PARL shows his passion to put in the work to educate and fight for members of his faith community to maintain religious freedoms and access to justice.”
For over a decade the foundation has recognized individuals and organizations which have made significant impact through their humanitarian service. By using the arts, the foundation shines the light on the stories of those who have made a significant impact on their local and global communities. The foundation also focuses on ending food insecurity and are currently providing meals to an average of 1,000 family monthly.
Past recipients of this award have included Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Congressman John Lewis and Chaplain Barry Black.
You can watch the program here:
Jennifer Gray Woods is the Lake Union PARL director.