2024 MLK Commemoration at Florida Tech

Join the Florida Tech Office of Alumni Affairs and Black Student Union As They Celebrate The Life And Achievements Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., As Well As Recognize Two Outstanding Community Members Serving Brevard County.

Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Location: Gleason Performing Arts Center - Florida Tech campus map

Address: 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL

Admission: Free!

Optional: Come to campus early and see the Breaking Barriers mural in honor of Dr. Julius Montgomery, located on the third floor of Evans Library. Viewing is available from 5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. 

2024 Awardees

Dr. Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award Winner - William (Bill) Gary

William (Bill) Gary is a founding member of the North Brevard NAACP Branch and has served over twenty-five years as president. During his tenure as president, the branch has received two Thalheimer Awards at the national conventions of 1986 and 2003 for the branch’s programmatic activities.

He is currently president, of Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, Inc. Board of Directors, where he has served for the past fifteen years during which time he has secured over $1.5 million in legislative funding to construct the Moore Home Replica, Twin Reflecting Pools, Ceremonial Gazebo, Civil Rights Trail with historical posters, Community Pavilion and Cultural Center Water Fountain; a former member of the Board of Directors of Greater Titusville Renaissance, a member of the Harry T. Moore Social Service Center Coalition, a member of the city of Titusville’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and a member of the Titusville Playhouse Theater.

Gary has received numerous awards including the prestigious Space Coast Hall of Fame Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award and Induction into the Hall of Fame in September 2016 and the 2019 Florida Historical Society’s Dorothy Dodd Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to history and advocacy of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Legacy. He is currently working with an independent film producer to produce a new documentary of the life of Harry & Harriette Moore and collaborating with a New York playwright/director on creating an expanded version of the Harry T. Moore stage play “Fearless”.

Rev. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award Winner - Dr. Gordon Patterson

Dr. Gordon Patterson has been a dedicated professor at Florida Tech for over four decades in the School of Arts and Communication. Within his role with the university, he specializes in environmental history and the history of science and technology.

His unwavering commitment to community engagement and civil rights is epitomized by his affiliation with the American Civil Liberties Union and his Lifetime Silver Membership in the NAACP. 

Dr. Patterson has also made significant contributions to various organizations, including the Florida Humanities Council, the Florida Historical Society, Holy Trinity Church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, and Neighbor Up Brevard.

Dr. Patterson has received six awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1998 and 2003, he taught the summer semesters in Seoul, Korea, and Misawa, Japan as part as part of the University of Maryland's Asian division. Patterson received a Fulbright Travel Study Grant in 2004 for research in Malaysia and Indonesia. He is the past chair of the social science section of the Florida Academy of Science, a former director of the Florida Historical Society, a former director of the Florida Humanities Council, and a past member of the Board of Advisers to Florida Defenders of the Environment. In 1994, Dr. Patterson was named to the panel of judges for the Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Award, given by the American Astronautical Society.

Dr. Patterson and his wife, Joy, will mark their 52nd anniversary this August.

2024 Featured Speakers

Keynote - Pastor Leo Stoney

An advocate for balance, embraces educational pursuits and community initiatives. Beginning his higher education pursuits at Florida A&M University Leo, later completed his education obtaining a bachelor of science in organizational management and a master of science in organizational leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Orlando, Florida.


Pastor Stoney currently resides in Orlando, Florida. As a bi-vocational pastor, he serves as the pastor of The MaxOut Church in Melbourne, FL, and works for the City of Orlando as a senior executive aide to District 6 commissioner Bakari Burns. His continued mission is to identify purpose in the lives of God’s people, with a ministry focus on empowering this generation to pursue their God-ordained destiny.

Gaye Montgomery

Gaye Montgomery is an attorney and mother of two adult children. She founded Montgomery Compliance Law PLLC and chairs the Audit Committee of Grubb Properties LLC.

She is the daughter of Dr. Julius Montomery, Florida Tech's first African-American student to enroll at the university and the first African-American professional to work for the United States' nascent space program in 1956.

Montgomery spent 20 years at Altria, where she led multiple law department practice groups, including global compliance, sales, marking, communications, corporate responsibility, and employment.

Iryan Ogbezuwa

Iryan Ogbezuwa is the current president of the Black Student Union at Florida Tech. He is an undergraduate student who is currently in pursuit of a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. He is one of the students whose name can be found on the Dean’s List and has showcased his drive and vision for a more positive future through his involvement in various social communities that focus on volunteerism and charitable causes for those in need.

Ogbezuwa's passion for a brighter future is evident in his active involvement in numerous social communities dedicated to volunteerism and charitable causes. Through thousands of service hours undertaken, he continues to show that if there is at least one community-minded individual who is dedicated to the cause, great things can occur.

Being president of the Black Student Union, Ogbezuwa exemplifies leadership and inclusivity. His commitment to both academic achievement and community service sets a remarkable example, this commitment shows great compassion and gives way to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

Leonard Ross

Previous Julius Montgomery Award Recipient, Leonard Ross will perform a live rendition of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

How to Get to the Gleason Performing Arts Center

Main university address: 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901

**Map is from Babcock St. campus entrance.

A map of the Florida Tech campus.

Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award

The Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award is presented each year to a deserving candidate to honor their commitment and contributions to their community. It is also a recognition of the pioneering spirit of Julius Montgomery and his selfless contributions to our great university.

Julius Montgomery was the first African American student to sign up for classes at the newly conceived Brevard Engineering College (Florida Tech) in the summer of 1958. The new college was using classroom space provided by the local school district. A few days before the first day of class on September 22, 1958, officials at the Brevard County School District learned that an African American was enrolled and immediately issued an ultimatum to President Jerry Keuper. They warned if Mr. Montgomery and any other aspirant African American students were allowed to attend class, the school district would prohibit the use of classroom space at Eau Gallie Junior High School. Rescinding the use of school district facilities to hold classes would have effectively been the college's death knell. 

When Julius became aware of the ultimatum, he voluntarily withdrew his application—and his sacrifice saved the founding of our university. President Keuper promised Mr. Montgomery that there would be a place for him at the university once Florida Tech secured its own campus and wasn't constricted by another entity's limited views. In 1961, soon after Florida Tech received the property on Country Club Road (now part of the current campus), Julius enrolled in classes.

 Watch how Julius Montgomery helped Florida Tech get its start

 On January 13, 2020, Julius was awarded an honorary doctorate by Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay in recognition of his legacy at Florida Tech. 

Dr. Montgomery died on January 22, 2020 at a nursing home in Melbourne, Florida, just days after Florida Tech awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters. He was 90. Read his obituary written by the New York Times.

Scholarship Fund

The Dr. Julius Montgomery Scholarship Fund was established as a testament to his legacy at Florida Tech, providing financial support for students from historically marginalized backgrounds. To learn more and donate, click here.

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