Utica, NY (WIBX) - It was a full house at the 28th Annual Mohawk Valley Frontiers Club MLK Day Luncheon held at the Radisson Hotel in Utica.Officials from across the region were at hand to mark the occasion, and to honor the legacy of the Civil Rights leader. The organization presented two honor-roll students from Proctor High School with scholarships to further their education, and recognized two community leaders for their volunteer efforts.

Congressman Richard Hanna praised the work the group is doing, and highlighted the issues many still face when it comes to racial inequality. He said, "I think that we are ultimately judged by how we operate, how we take care of all of ourselves, not just the wealthy, not just the poor, but how we build our society and the things we show respect to." The congressman goes on to say, "You can change behavior with the law ... takes time to change peoples behavior in their mind. I still think we have a society that is somewhat bigoted and I thnk that we're working through that. My hope is that we are and I believe that we are." And, he says how Congress responds to the needs of all people, is a reflection of its commitment to the advancement of everyone regardless of race, creed or religion.

Councilman Jerome McKinsey says since the days of Martin Luther King, Jr., progress has been made, but says there is still a lot of room for progress. He says the recent issue involving the Utica Police Department supposedly planting drug evidence on two African American suspects may have been taken out of context on the edited version of the released tape released on YouTube, however he says the incident opened up some old wounds. "Yes, it did open up some old wounds but sometimes that's necessary for proper healing. You can have a real nasty scar and then if you go to have it removed, the surgeon has to cut that old scar off so that it can heal properly. So, it's opened up some old wounds and I think that the people on deck for the struggle are in position, competent and educated enough to take these old wounds, or these old problems and handle them in a way that they'll be dealt with properly, so you know,  I think that the recent events are paving the way for even more progress."

The organization presented Proctor High School seniors, Kiearra Arthur and Shakur Henry with Scholastic Achievement Awards. Darlene Mack-Brown and Warren E. Molo were presented with MLK Community Service Awards. Mack-Brown received a special recognition and civic award for her leadership and work with the group and in the community. The award, presented to her by Assemblywoman, Claudia Tenney, was a special surprise for Mack-Brown.

The Mohawk Valley Frontiers Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1936, to advance civic participation among community members. Other officials in attendance include, Assemblyman Antony Brindisi, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, City of Utica Mayor, Robert Palmieri, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and State Senator Joseph Griffo.