Minority Recognition Awards Nominees
Professor Isiah Leggett
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
by MSTA Maryland State Teacher's Association
Professor Leggett’s distinguished service to his community,
the people of Montgomery County and the state of Maryland proves
his dedication to the principles of human dignity and respect
for people of all races, nationalities, genders and sexual
orientation. He has lived these principles and demonstrated to
citizens that effective advocacy of full civil rights for all
persons can be achieved collaboratively and peacefully. His
leadership has been instrumental in raising standards of human
decency and equality for Montgomery County, Maryland, but his
work in these areas did not begin there.
Mr. Leggett’s involvement in the quest for civil rights began
in his student days at Southern University in Louisiana. Not
known for its tolerance of diversity during the 1960s, Louisiana
was the unwitting incubator for many great civil rights leaders,
including lsiah Leggett. As Student Government President at
Southern University, Mr. Leggett led demonstrations in support
of civil rights for African Americans. Sadly, as was the custom
at that time in Louisiana, he was jailed for his leading role in
advocating for civil rights. Despite the consequences, Mr.
Leggett persisted in his activities in a non-violent manner that
inspired other students and community residents.
Ike Leggett, as he is fondly called by people who know him in
Maryland, has had a remarkable academic career that includes
achieving a Master of Laws degree from The George Washington
University and a Juris Doctorate degree from Howard University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University Law School,
holding the third highest academic average in the law school’s
history. In 1985, he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from
Howard University Law School.
Mr. Leggett worked as an administrative aide to Congressman
Parren Mitchell of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. His
most notable contribution was providing support necessary to the
Congressman in achieving passage of minority procurement
legislation. Thanks to Ike Leggett’s efforts, thousands of
minority businesses have benefited from a more level playing
field in the U.S. economy. Countless numbers of minority
entrepreneurs have been encouraged in their efforts by this
In 1981, Mr. Leggett was appointed to the Montgomery County
Human Relations Commission. He served as chairman of the
Commission from 1983-1986. During his tenure, he advocated
successfully for the modification of the Human Relations Code to
include sexual orientation as a protected category from
discrimination. Montgomery County was the first jurisdiction in
Maryland to take that step. His efforts led to the eventual
modification of state civil rights regulations to include sexual
orientation. Under his leadership, the Montgomery County Human
Relations Commission gained state and national prominence for
its progressive advocacy on behalf of all persons.
Ike Leggett chaired the Montgomery County Employment
Discrimination Review Panel from 1982-1986. He lent his strong
leadership to the process that had a zero tolerance policy of
discrimination. Residents of the community were well served by
his staunch advocacy for the companion values of human dignity
and equal opportunity for all.
Mr. Leggett was the first African American to be elected to
the Montgomery County Council in 1986 and he served as council
vice president and president. His presence on the council had a
profound impact on the community. It paved the way for other
people of color to aspire to and achieve electoral success in
Another aspect of Leggett’s lasting legacy in human and civil
rights was the development of a mentoring program for county
youth. Minority youth were the particular beneficiaries of this
program, thanks to Ike Leggett’s leadership.
Isiah Leggett’s life exemplifies the values shared by Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Leggett has devoted his professional and
public life to advocating on behalf of full respect of the worth
of each individual and guaranteeing each person the right to
pursue whatever their talent and ambition allow. He has assumed
personal and professional risks in order to model the values he
shares with the late Dr. King and he has left his mark on every
institution of society in which he has endeavored.