Ishmon Burks receives Freedom Award from Mayor Fischer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ishmon Burks receives Freedom Award from Mayor Fischer

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Performances by a drum corps and ballet dancers engaged the crowd. Even a young vocalist worked his way up the scale fit for a soprano.

But his high note was just the first at the "Keepers of the Dream" ceremony Sunday recognizing those who have continued the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The program also recognized Ishmon Burks, a civic leader whose recent duties included serving as the interim public safety director and interim police chief for Louisville Metro Government.

"Ish Burks' devotion to public service throughout his life is simply amazing - he has simply been the first to break the color bearers for the positions he has held," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told the crowd inside the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Burks was the first African-American commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. The retired Army Colonel spoke to the crowd about the importance of value and education in his life.

Mayor Greg Fischer chose Burks as the recipient of this year's Freedom award for his contributions to public safety. During his acceptance speech for the Freedom Award, Burks said: "Leadership is the center of gravity for failure or success."

He later told WDRB News: "It takes hard work, it takes other people and all those put together can lead to success.

"I'm a soldier at heart and soldiers don't necessarily work for things like that. I said whatever you think mayor. I am honored and humbled by it and receive it with a great sense of gratitude," Burks said during an interview.

Councilwoman Cheri Bryant-Hamilton, who went to high school with Burks at Shawnee High School, said: "He's a modest man. 'He said what did I do to deserve this?' And when you have to ask, we already know. I'm just proud of him."

Burks says he owes a lot of credit to others for his successes. When asked directly if he would return to civic duty instead of teaching at Jefferson Community and Techinal College, he said:

"I'm content I'm getting a little bit older i'll be 68 in march so I got to think about that a little bit but right now my life is centered around my students at Jefferson College."

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