On Monday Jan. 18, the Washington Inter-Alumni Council of the United Negro College Fund (WIAC-UNCF) hosted its 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Breakfast celebration in Greenbelt, Md. The annual breakfast which attracts anywhere from 600 to 800 people, was started in 1980 and was originally the idea of then WIAC President and Paine alumnus Fred Thompson. In addition to keeping with UNCF’s mission of raising scholarship funds for students, the event recognized two individuals for their community service contributions, and featured a notable keynote speaker.
“In an essay penned in the Morehouse Tiger published in 1947, Dr. King wrote that, ‘The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Dr. King also reminded us in the same essay that, ‘Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education.’ True education is what I was given from the moment I stepped onto hallowed grounds under the hanging moss at Tougaloo College,” said Hope E. Goins, Esq. affectionately of her alma mater. Ms. Goins who serves as the Chief Counsel for Oversight for the United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, received the Grace Walker Phillips Youth Leadership Award for excellence in community service.
“Whether in Baltimore, DC, or California, we must take a national stand, organize and empower one another, but especially our youth to get past their self-doubts, channel their confidence and get into the game of life, the game of progress,” said Tuskegee University alumnus Marilyn Mosby, recipient of the Measure of a Person Award. “As the progressive leaders of tomorrow, it’s up to us to force change, not tomorrow, not next week but today, now in this very moment.” Mrs. Mosby, Baltimore City State’s Attorney who has been at the forefront of the Freddie Gray case, spoke passionately about: Dr. King’s legacy, her path to her current position, in addition to challenging the audience to continue to affect change in society.
“We were the first really to have this kind of breakfast in the Washington, DC area, and the reason why is because we wanted to make sure that the legacy of Dr. King continued. It’s an opportunity to continue to elevate Dr. King’s works, to educate the masses in the Washington, DC area and to keep the dream alive,” said Isaac Templeton, Jr. “That first event I think we had over 300 folks at the Howard University Inn and so I’ve been with this group ever since. We brought in all of the leaders from the Civil Rights Movement to become speakers at past events, Andrew Young, for example.”
“I was fortunate enough to be with Dr. King the Sunday before he died,” Mr. Templeton, a Claflin University alumnus and one time President of the school’s NAACP chapter continued. “Dr. King was very jokingly, very friendly, but very serious. He was just a down to earth person and very easy to be around.”
“We provide over $100 million annually in scholarship assistance to students who attend UNCF member institutions, other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and over 1100 other colleges and universities,” said Charles Thompson III, UNCF’s Area Development director. “There are two areas we consider, how well the student meets the criteria set by the donor for each scholarship but also demonstrated financial need. Many of the students we help come from families whose income is below $25,000.”
The MLK breakfast was sponsored by Aetna, Four Points, Southern Management Corporation, and Wegmans. Visit the UNCF website to learn more about the organization and to make a donation.