Since its start three years ago, the annual celebration breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been one of the key community events on the calendar. On Monday morning, more than 350 people packed HS Lordships overlooking the bay to break bread with fellow Berkeleyans, to honor Berkeley students and to reflect on King’s legacy at a time of heightened awareness of racial disparities and injustice.
“If we ever need the legacy of Martin Luther King, we need it today,” said Michael McBride, pastor of The Way Christian Center. In a powerful talk which ranged from Ferguson, Mo. to Berkeley protests, McBride said, “We will wrestle with the question, ‘Which side are you on?'”
McBride’s remarks were echoed by new District 15 Assemblyman Tony Thurmond.
“Ferguson might as well be Selma,” Thurmond said. “There’s much more work to be done to continue the work of Dr. King.”
But along with the reflection, there was celebration of Berkeley students who exemplify the legacy of King through writing, art or leadership. Longfellow Middle School’s Nishat Sheikh, Willard Middle School’s Joi Barker and Ciara Best, and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s Larry Price, Gabrielle Montenegro and Maralina Caldas won middle school Next Generation Awards.
Laneesha Alexander from Berkeley Technology Academy and Kadijah Means from Berkeley High School won the high school awards. Alexander has been a key part of B-Tech’s restorative justice program. Means was the primary organizer for BHS’s Dec. 10 Black Lives Matter walkout which had 1,400 student participants.
The lifetime achievement award was given to Berkeley native Thelette Bennett, a long-time Berkeley schools administrator, who had been student activities director at BHS for many years, and a vice principal at Willard, Longfellow and BHS.
Below is a video of part of the performance of The Promise Youth Choir.
Berkeley MLK breakfast offers community, celebration (01.13.15)
Berkeley MLK breakfast builds community, calls for action (01.21.14)
Berkeley MLK breakfast will draw community together (01.07.14)
All Berkeley comes together, celebrates hope on MLK Day (01.22.13)
King breakfast brings Berkeley community together (01.14.13)
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