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Penn honored as ICAN Hero for 2010

By Joe Starkey



The Reverend Andrew Penn was recognized as a Hero of ICAN after service that started with the organization of ICAN. He has served this community in many ways since his return to Abilene and is now moving to spend more time with family.Retired Police Chief Melvin Martin spoke of his history with Reverend Penn. When he first began patrolling the “bad” neighborhoods of Abilene as a rookie policeman, his goal was to be accepted as a white officer in a mostly black neighborhood. When a spark of police brutality lit up Abilene in 1971, Melvin felt a personal failure that lasted for many years. He spoke of places like “Peter Gunn’s” on Walnut that he responded to on his second day as an officer to find three men shot and there were many places like that back then. {{more}} By the time he became Police Chief, most of the brown bag clubs had disappeared and activities had moved to 13th street. He then started monthly meetings at various churches in the Carver area. Result was police campaigns both overt and covert that resulted in clean-ups. However, that was not getting the job done and ICAN was started. It’s a great model for other cities to follow as it works really well, Martin said. He then gave his personal thanks to Rev. Penn for his help in accomplishing the goal Melvin set as a young patrolman.Reture Police Chief Melvin Martin paid tribute to Rev. Penns in his Keynote address. Photo by Joe StarkeyRev. Penn told those assembled that the reason he returned to Abilene was not that he was born and raised here but that it had blight and he was called to help. He appreciated the award as he believed “give me my flowers while I yet live.” Not that he wished to be put on a pedestal¸ but to hear the good things people feel about him and his work. “I can walk all of the Carver Neighborhood and the people respect me as I respect them.” He then thanked those who first elected him to President of ICAN and even those that kept re-electing him. He thanked his wife and children as he expressed appreciation for the life and legacy that God has given him. He recognized Mrs. Wiseman who first taught him to type and then taught him English.Rev. Penn ended by saying he cherishes the awards given him but most of all he looks forward to the one God will give him in the future.

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