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Julius Montgomery Honored at Florida Tech MLK Event

University Pioneer Receives Honorary Degree

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech celebrates the life and achievements of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 13 at the Gleason Performing Arts Center on the university’s Melbourne campus.

In a special presentation, Pioneer Award namesake Julius Montgomery was awarded an honorary doctorate by Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay in recognition of his legacy at Florida Tech. A true pioneer, Montgomery first made history in 1956 when he began work as an electronics technician at Cape Canaveral, becoming the first African-American to work there in a role other than janitor. Two years later, he was the first African-American student to sign up for classes at Brevard Engineering College, the Melbourne school that opened in 1958 and would later be renamed Florida Institute of Technology.

A few days before classes started, officials in the Brevard County school district learned that an African-American was enrolled and issued an ultimatum to the university’s founding president, Jerome Keuper: if African-Americans were allowed to attend classes, the district would prohibit the use of certain classrooms at a local building where Brevard Engineering College was set to begin its classes.

As BEC did not yet have its own campus, this restriction would have crippled the university. Knowing this, Montgomery agreed to withdraw to keep the university functioning, and President Keuper promised him that he would have a spot at the school once it found a permanent home.

Soon after BEC secured the property that would become the Florida Tech campus, Montgomery enrolled in classes.

The agenda also included a presentation of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by orator Leonard Ross, a keynote address by retired Brevard County Court Judge Alli Majeed, and the presentation of the university’s Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award and Dr. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award.

The 2020 recipient of Montgomery’s Pioneer Award was Moses Harvin. A native of Sumter, South Carolina, Harvin is president, chief executive officer, and co-founder of American Services Technology, Incorporated (ASTI), a defense contractor that offers services from logistics management to facilities support.

A graduate of Claflin University (undergraduate) and Webster University (master’s degree), Harvin went on to a distinguished career in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of major and serving as a decorated Gulf War veteran. He received the U.S. Army Bronze Star, as well as other honors.

He is past chairman and current member of the board at Eastern Florida State College, a position appointed by the Florida governor. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Claflin University and was the first African-American to be elected chairman of the board at the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Harvin has won numerous awards, including SBA Veteran Small Business of the Year in Florida, Florida Minority Supplier Development Council Small Business of the Year and United Way Bridge Builder Award. He was named Citizen of the Year at Florida Today’s Volunteer Recognition Awards.

Pastor Janna Hogan Forschino was presented the Dr. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award, which recognizes success in community activism and improvement. A native of St. Kitts in the West Indies, she is founding pastor of Jesus is the Key Church in Melbourne and has spent the last 30 years working with – and uplifting – the Brevard County religious community.

The driving force behind the Christian Christmas Process, often known as the Bible on Parade, Forschino in 1990 began calling on church and ministry leaders to come into the unity of their common faith and to no longer be divided by denominational, racial and gender differences.

Her passion and vision hit a milestone nearly 30 years later when 51 churches and ministries came together in 2019 for the 30th Annual Bible on Parade. Similar gatherings have now debuted in Tennessee and the Bahamas.

A gallery of photos from the event is available here.

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