2014 MLK Breakfast: Reimagine the Future
Today, as we mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and what would have been King’s 85th year, I celebrated his legacy with the attendees at the 24th annual MLK Breakfast in Minneapolis, hosted by the General Mills Foundation and UNCF (United Negro College Fund).
There was an amazing energy among the sold-out crowd at the Minneapolis Convention Center as performance artist Warren Bowles took the stage for his rendition of Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech.
As we listened to the powerful words in the speech, it was both a celebration of how far we’ve come since King delivered his famous speech 50 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, while at the same time it was a reminder of how far we have yet to go.
Poverty, unemployment, voting rights and racial disparities in education were issues Dr. King and so many others fought hard for. Today, these same issues continue to plague civil rights equality.
Donna Brazile, well-known political commentator, strategist and author, addressed this inequality and proposed a way forward in her keynote remarks.
Brazile encouraged the audience to judge success not by wealth, but by the quality of service to others.
She said: “Dr. King said we can never be satisfied, we can never turn back. Let us increase our service to others. Let us add to the charity we give. Let us exhibit gratitude. Let us expect more of ourselves than we do others. And, let us not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
As Brazile focusd on the breakfast’s theme, “Reimagine the Future,” she urged the audience not to delay but to “seize the time before it slips from our minds.” She outlined how emancipation today can be achieved through immigration reform, equal voting rights, economic equality, the end of gun violence and healthcare for all.
She went on to say: “Dr. King believed we could never walk alone. Us versus them tears us apart. We don’t have to agree with each other, but we have to respect each other. Dr. King said: ‘What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.’”
Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., president and CEO of UNCF, also spoke at the breakfast, saying: “There could not be a better time than the 85th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth to think about how we can live up to the example he set for us. This breakfast, and the 24 year partnership between UNCF and General Mills, is an important investment in better futures for our young people and for all of us who will benefit from their education.”
Rather than honoring Dr. King on MLK Day alone, today’s speakers urged us to uphold Dr. King’s legacy every day. Opportunities to volunteer are plentiful, so as we “Reimagine the Future,” take time to reflect on the needs of your community and the skills you have to offer. Most importantly, commit to taking action today.
As Dr. King said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
The breakfast will be rebroadcast on Twin Cities Public Television during the remainder of January and early February, or online at TPT.org/mlk.