Stepping into Black History Month: 17th Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast

By Staff Writer Tamendy Raymond.

An event that gathered a community of people to celebrate and promote the legacy of a profound social justice leader. On Friday, February 1, 2019, UMass Dartmouth’s Human Resources Department hosted the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Woodland Commons. A warm, delicious breakfast served and catered by the dining services of UMD.

Guest keynote speaker included Wade Davis, a former NFL player, also equality advocate and educator.

From Arkansas, graduated with a BS in Business Administration, Wade creates league- wide inclusive leadership and training sessions for coaches and players.

By engaging men around gender equity and equality, he built a program that launched with the United Nations, also collaborated with Time’s Up, an organization that insists on safe and fair work for all women.

Musical performances were by Jerome Kyles and Kimberly Locke. Singer songwriter Locke, and American Idol semi finalist recorded several albums with her single “8th World Wonder.”

Jerome Kyles, is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, a vocalist, pianist and Minister of worship at the Morning Star Baptist Church. “Take every opportunity to share, and possibly to change people’s ideas about life through your voice”, he tells his students. That is exactly what they did, opening the ceremony so elegantly accompanied by ours truly D’Sword Choir. Beautiful arrangements, lovely voices lifted spirits and with musical pieces such as “Still I Rise.”

Senior Crime and Justice BA Harrison Gbarbo, says he “felt beyond blessed performing the African American national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with Kimberly Locke.
The song is based on a powerful poem of African American history and how to work through struggles and turbulence, to persevere and rise. Being able to perform with D’sword Gospel Choir is always special as it is always a learning experience for me. This was my second time participating in the MLK Jr Breakfast with the choir. Just like last year, I left with a valuable lesson of history, and inspiration.”

Senior Graduate, Biomedical Engineer and Biotechnology M.S Tianna Edwards, reflects on her experience and says “D-Sword did an amazing job performing with our guest artists! One of the most touching and emotional part for me was the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” That song hits very close to home because it is a cherished song within my home church and carries a lot of meaning for Black Americans.”

Opening and Closing remarks were spoken eloquently by Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Talent and Diversity, Angela Callahan. With a formal, motivational and empowering speech by Chancellor Robert Johnson.

During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man that impacted and sharpened the voices of many African American people. At the center of non violence stands the principle of love,” was one of his famous quotes.
The focus of this year is “building a momentum through love.”

“The atmosphere. Everyone in the room seemed genuinely moved by what was being said and the performances given. I hope everyone continues to keep that feeling while facing whatever forces may be continually pointing out differences,” says Edwards.
In order to build a momentum through love we must educate, support and understand our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.

Through building and understanding one another we are helping each other grow. We are the future change we would like to see in the world and it starts today!

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