(Lake Worth, Florida) Palm Beach State College will present retired Judge Rand Hoch with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award during the school’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. The event attracts hundreds of students, faculty, staff and members of the community each year.
Hoch was nominated for the award by attorney Rae Franks, a law school classmate who has worked with him on numerous civil rights projects for many years.
“In law school, Rand and I shared a passion for advancing workers’ rights,” said Franks. “Over the years, he has worked tirelessly as a pro bono advocate, activist and organizer working to secure equal rights for minorities and women.”
Hoch became a political activist while still in his teens. Growing up in Massachusetts in the 1960s, he was perplexed that the young men sent to fight in Vietnam had been denied the right to vote. As a key organizer in the voting rights movement, Hoch, at the time a high school student, was one of only a handful of people invited to the State House by Governor Francis Sargent to witness the bill lowering the voting age signed into law.
Throughout his college and law school years, Hoch remained immersed in political causes. When he moved to Palm Beach County in the 1980s, his law practice centered on representing workers and unions.
In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, an all volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Under his leadership, the Council has been successful in having civil rights laws enacted which secure protected status for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in private and public employment, housing and public accommodations.
Hoch was also instrumental in having the Palm Beach County School District adopt a comprehensive policy protecting public school students from harassment and bullying. More recently, in an effort to address the problem of “shopping while Black”, he convinced both the Palm Beach County Commission and the West Palm Beach City Commission to amend their civil rights laws, greatly expanding the definition of places of public accommodation to include not only retail stores, but also virtually every place of business in Palm Beach County.
To date, Hoch has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 laws and policies extending equal rights and benefits to the LGBT Floridians.
“With this award, Palm Beach State College has recognized the civil rights work done by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council over the years” said Hoch. “It is a humbling experience to receive an award honoring Dr. King,”
In 2005, the College unveiled a 5-foot granite monument and named a courtyard on its Lake Worth in honor of the civil rights leader.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration is free and open to the public. It will take place on the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College on January 14, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.
To RSVP to the event, please go to: http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/mlk/rsvp.aspx
The keynote speaker for the celebration will be Morehouse College professor Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, host of HuffPost Live and BET News, as well as a political contributor for CNN. In 2011, Ebony Magazine named him one of America’s 100 most influential Black leaders.