Featured in this year’s observance was Dr. Martin Luther King's personal assistant and driver, Tom Houck. USDA employees filled the 500 seat Jefferson Auditorium to capacity to hear Mr. Houck’s unique and intimate stories about the Civil Rights Movement’s most extraordinary leader.
A high school dropout, Tom became involved in the civil rights movement as a teenager when, as a white student, he was expelled from his high school for participating in its “black movement.” From 1965-1971 Houck worked with the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Voter Empowerment Program (VEP) in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Washington DC, New York and Chicago. From 1966 until Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, Tom worked as driver/chauffeur and personal assistant to Dr. King and his family.
USDA held its observance of the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 in the Jefferson Auditorium at 10 a.m. This year's theme was, "Remember, Celebrate, Act - A Day On, Not a Day Off."
USDA strives to create a diverse workforce where all employees value and demonstrate their respect for each other's unique attributes so that the workplace is free from harassment, discrimination, and intolerance. To achieve these goals, the Office of Workplace Diversity & Inclusion sponsors a variety of activities, including diversity awareness training, in order to enhance diversity and inclusion within USDA. This observance of the 80th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of these activities.