Leadership, legacy, and light: Black Student Union hosts MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast

The annual breakfast brought together diverse voices to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy and inspire positive change.

On January 15, the University of Washington Tacoma’s Black Student Union hosted the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast, a poignant event that celebrated the life and teachings of the civil rights icon while inspiring attendees to contribute to positive change. 

The event commenced with a heartfelt acknowledgment of the university’s connection to the ancestral homeland of the Coast Salish people, emphasizing the responsibility to partner with and support the indigenous community.  

“These are the leaders of today, and I’m just so proud of all the hard work that they put into making today possible,” said Chancellor Sheila Edwards Lange. “Today, as we pay tribute to Doctor King’s legacy and values, let our hearts and souls be stirred by the words of our speakers and the performances of our artists.”  

The event featured an inspiring performance of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” the Black National Anthem, performed by Alexander J. Henderson. Henderson’s rendition resonated with the audience, setting the tone for a day focused on unity, reflection and activism. 

A powerful moment as voices join together to sing the Black National Anthem at the MLK Jr. Unity Breakfast. Photo by Cameron Berrens.

Courtney Acoff, the Alumni Speaker, shared a personal story of overcoming challenges and highlighted the impact of mentors and community support. Acoff emphasized the importance of giving back and encouraged attendees to be a positive force in their communities. 

“Today is not just a day off from work; it’s a day of service,” Acoff said. “Without Dr. King’s service and efforts leading in the civil rights movement, I would not have the opportunity to stand before you today.” 

The Dream Awards presentation recognized individuals and organizations making significant contributions to social justice and community development. A performance by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity added a vibrant touch to the event, highlighting unity and solidarity. 

The keynote speaker, A’ric Jackson, delivered a powerful address centered around three key principles: “Destroy your box of the past,” “Do you,” and “Don’t be afraid to get too MAD (Making a Difference).” Jackson challenged the audience to break free from limitations, embrace authenticity, and strive for excellence. 

“A legacy should not be something you tap into one day and then walk away from it,” said Jackson. “Destroy your box of the past, do you, and do not be afraid to get too MAD.”  

These closing remarks emphasized the significance of the event in honoring Dr. King’s legacy and fostering a sense of belonging and community engagement. 

In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to service, the breakfast served as a call to action for all attendees to contribute to building a more just and equitable world. The impactful event left an impression, inspiring individuals to carry Dr. King’s teachings into their daily lives. Serving as a powerful reminder of the ongoing work required to achieve a more just and equitable society, the breakfast echoed the timeless message of Dr. King.