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Breakfast to honor MLK

Event features former civil rights chairwoman

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 22:01

The MSC will host the Woodson Black Awareness Committee’s seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Thursday.

The MLK Breakfast, which will feature speaker Mary Frances Berry, is meant to honor the life of King and demonstrate the ways in which the civil rights movement is still relevant today, said Candace Morris, committee director of Black History Month and junior management major.

“[The purpose] is also to explore the civil rights movement in general,” Morris said. “We want to ignite a passion for civil rights and get people to stand up for what they believe and to spread the idea that anything is possible if you put in hard work.”

Each year, a speaker who provides insight into the life of King and the civil rights movement is featured at the breakfast. Berry served as chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on civil rights and worked within the government to help promote civil rights. Along with speaking about King, Morris said Berry will share stories about her own experiences in the civil rights movement.

“When she was on the civil rights commission, that was at the time they still had segregation going on and they were still bringing to light all the issues that needed to be addressed,” Morris said. “She’ll be sharing her experience and how she works continuously to fight for civil rights, as that battle has not been won yet.”

Aja Holston, committee chair and senior political science major, said Berry can offer a unique perspective on the civil rights movement as both a woman and a former government worker.

“As a woman, her perception of the civil rights movement is different than that of a man and I think it is critical to create a space for her to share her experience,” Holston said. “She served in many roles while fighting for civil rights and, like many of the greats, is currently working as a professor. She understands what it means to be at the front lines and to then move aside so the next generation can take up the fight.”

Renee Loper, committee internal programming director and senior political science major, has attended the breakfast in previous years and said it allows her to experience the past and learn about ways that she can use history to help better the future.

“I enjoy the breakfast mainly because I feel like it is a gateway to the past with people that were younger and got to experience Dr. King while he was alive,” Loper said. “I feel like it’s eye-opening to hear these people talk and learn from what they have to say and implement things they did when they were younger to better people as a whole. “
Holston said her past experiences with the breakfast have been life changing and have helped her to understand just how important an individual can be.

“To sit in the presence of individuals who faced death threats, the loss of their jobs, harm to the ones they loved, etcetera, just so that I could sit where I sit today is overwhelming,” Holston said. “After lunch with Harry Belafonte two years ago, he asked what I wanted to do with my degree. When I told him I wished to be a child’s advocate attorney, he held my hand, smiled and said, ‘Thank you.’ That experience is why this is so important to me.”

Morris said she hopes those attending will not just learn about the past, but also glean how they can better today’s society.

“We just want the students who attend this event to be immersed in a discussion about civil rights,” Morris said. “In the past the fight for civil rights was fought by young people and the students today are the young generation. We have the energy to go out there and make changes. From this program we hope that they learn about the past and how they can affect the future today through their own work.”

The breakfast will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Gates Ballroom and is open to all A&M students, faculty and staff as well as members of Bryan-College Station. Tickets are $6 for students and $12 for everyone else and may be obtained through the MSC Box Office.


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