A U.S. Army veteran with a long history of service to the Erie region, an exceptional Edinboro student who has demonstrated a passion for advocacy and two outstanding school administrators were honored Feb. 27 during Edinboro University’s 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon.
President Guiyou Huang presented Edinboro’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award to Luther R. Manus, Jr. of Erie, in recognition of his distinguished military career and steadfast commitment to education and equality.
Zeila Anne Hobson, a senior majoring in Psychology with minors in Pre-Law and Journalism, was awarded the Dr. Joseph Laythe Award for championing social justice on and off campus.
Edinboro alumnus Anthony Williams, head of Pittsburgh’s Neighborhood Academy, and Ken Nickson, Jr., coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion for Erie’s Public Schools, were honored with inaugural Partnership Appreciation Awards presented by Edinboro’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Dr. Terrence Mitchell.
Students from each of the schools accepted the awards on behalf of Williams and Nickson, who were unable to attend the luncheon.
The new award recognizes area educators who are allies in Edinboro’s commitment to diversity and to creating opportunities for intellectual and personal growth in a welcoming, accepting environment.
During the luncheon, President Huang reaffirmed Edinboro’s commitment to sustaining an inclusive campus culture.
“We have gathered to honor two individuals at very different stages of their lives – one a current Edinboro student and the other a retired school counselor and U.S. Army veteran,” Huang said. “Both have shown through their service to others that they have taken Dr. King’s message to heart. They are a model for us all.”
Manus was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1946 – two years before President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order to abolish racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces. Despite the prejudices he faced, Manus served proudly and honorably throughout his 24-year military career.
Following his military service, Manus offered career guidance and mentorship to countless students and their families as a school counselor in Erie’s School District for nearly two decades. Now 92 years old, he continues to emanate the character and teachings of Dr. King through his community service efforts within the region.
“Mr. Manus has devoted his entire life to service – to his country, his community and to supporting the aspirations of high school students in Erie,” said Mitchell.
A graduate of General McLane High School in Edinboro, Hobson provides tutoring support to her peers, participates in Mock Trial and serves as a research aide in the Psychology Department. As a staff writer for The Spectator, Edinboro’s student-run newspaper, she provides a voice to the student body, often covering controversial political topics and issues that directly impact marginalized populations.
“Zeila has gone above and beyond the call of her peers and profession by consistently standing up and using her voice to make the world a better place for the disenfranchised people around her,” said Edinboro University student Julia Mutranowski, who nominated Hobson for the award. “She amazes me every day with the effort she puts forth towards her academic goals and beyond, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of an award in Dr. King’s honor.”
According to Mutranowski, Hobson faces and challenges the practices and systems that deny access to basic rights and privileges for herself and others.
Now in its fourth year, the Dr. Joseph Laythe award was created in honor of Laythe, a well-loved Edinboro history professor who died in March 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. His daughter Lydia spoke about her father to introduce the award.
“Dr. Laythe touched the hearts and souls of those he came into contact with,” said Pertrina Marrero, Edinboro’s director of Diversity and Inclusion. “Graduates, students and colleagues have been inspired by his lectures, engaged by his charisma, and enriched personally and academically by his commitment to history and to justice.”
Edinboro University hosts the annual luncheon during Black History Month to help carry on Dr. King’s legacy by honoring individuals such as Manus and Hobson for keeping the civil rights leader’s dream alive.
Since 1997, more than 50 community leaders have been honored with the Edinboro University Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award to celebrate King’s legacy and to honor northwestern Pennsylvania citizens who embody King’s spirit, philosophy and teachings. The Dr. Joseph Laythe Award expands on that tradition by paying tribute to man who, like King, was dedicated to justice.