Dr. John P. David, Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences/ Public Administration at WVU-Tech and Director of the Southern Appalachian Labor School has been awarded the “Living the Dream” Human and Civil Rights Award by the Martin Luther King, Jr. West Virginia Holiday Commission. He was nominated for the award by the Fayette County Commission, which will be presented on Saturday, January 19, 2008 as part of the official state observance in Charleston.
According to the announcement, Dr. David received one of the five “Living the Dream” awards for his “active involvement in the pursuit of equality for others and being an advocate for social justice”. Each year the Commission presents the awards to those who best exemplify, through action and personal trails, the principles and ideals characterizing Reverend King in his pursuit for social change.
Dr. David met Dr. King in Atlanta in 1966 as he completed Peace Corps training prior to two years of service in Ghana. At that time, Dr. King was planning to visit Ghana as well, which was a trip that never occurred.
John David was raised in Onaway, Michigan, a small town in the northern part of the state. While attending the University of Michigan, he was inspired by John F. Kennedy to join the Peace Corps. After graduating with a degree in mathematics, he spent two years in Ghana, West Africa teaching math at Prempeh College. It was while in the Peace Corps he decided that economics was the key to justice and decided to continue his education in that field. Upon leaving the Peace Corps he entered the doctoral program in Economics at West Virginia University (WVU), specializing in labor economics and becoming involved with WVU’s Institute for Labor Studies. While attending WVU he was active in the United Mine Worker’s ‘Miners for Democracy’ reform movement, beginning a history of support for organized labor that continues today. Upon completing his coursework at WVU, he obtained a position teaching economics at West Virginia University Institute of Technology where he still works. In 1972 he became chair of the newly created Department of Social Sciences and Public Administration and in the same year was named full professor. John is married to Jan Young and is the father of two grown children, both adopted. Daniel is a native West Virginian and Sadida was born in Peru.
John David is best known as a founder of the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS). Originally developed to bring educational programs to working people and labor unions, SALS now provides a wide variety of educational and training programs for youth and people of all ages. SALS, centered in Beards Fork, offers after-school programs for children during the school year and Energy Express in the summer. Grants from the Department of Labor, HUD/YouthBuild, USDA and other agencies provide training in construction skills to youth and young.