POE: Louis Hawkins - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

POE: Louis Hawkins

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(02/03/14) - During Black History Month, the Genesee District Library honors local men, women and organizations in the African American Community.

This week, ABC 12 news will highlight five honorees who come from different walks of life, but have one thing in common - that's the desire to make a difference in their community.

Monday, we honor Louis Hawkins.

The desire to breakdown racial barriers and create an equal playing field, you could say started at a very young age for Louis Hawkins - as a child living in Birmingham, Alabama.

"Even though we were separated by the chain link fence, I thought right then - separate but unequal because these kids were white. I always wondered that as a kid, because it just followed me," Hawkins said.

It ignited a passion for equality that really began to take shape while in college. Hawkins was working on his doctorate in economics at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and planed to become a professor - but life had different plans for him in Flint.

"I came here. Someone said that you need to work at the Model Cities Program, we're looking for someone with your background in economics," he said. "I went there, just about the time that semester was up - the city of Flint was looking for an affirmative action officer."

History was made.

As the city's first affirmative action officer, Hawkins says the color of the city's public safety department didn't reflect the community.

"There's only one black firefighter in this whole city. The population is close to 40 percent African American - that didn't make any sense," he said. "Then I looked around and there were no women - black or white - who were police officers."

Over the years, Hawkins worked to try and even the playing field within the city of Flint.

"By the time I left that position, we actually had a black fire chief. We had a black police chief," Hawkins said. "It's the kind of job I'm most proud of, because I can actually see tangibly the difference in the workforce. We changed the complexion of that workforce."

Now in his role as the community relations administrator for Health Plus, his hands are in almost every event across Genesee County - from the HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races to the Pink Bus Campaign with the MTA. In addition, he sits on a number of boards and committees.

It's part of his personal mission to serve and help uplift Genesee County.

"Once I got here, got involved with the community, got to know the people - it just became part of my objective to make it a better community as much as I could," he said.

The Genesee District Library will honor Louis Hawkins and others this Saturday during the annual Black History Month Brunch. The brunch will be held at the Riverfront Banquet Center in Flint.

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