Breakfast of a civil rights champion
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jan 21, 2013 | 3060 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Remembering the dream
West High Black Student Union club advisor Audrey Harrison delivers the keynote address for the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Monday, Jan. 21, at the Tracy Community Center.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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The drive to keep dreaming was the message of the 17th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 21, at the Tracy Community Center.

This year’s breakfast was filled with words of empowerment and spirit-lifting music as more than 100 people gathered at the center to remember and honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on what would have been his 84th birthday.

Sponsoring the event was the Tracy Unified School District, the Black Student Unions of West and Kimball high schools, and the Tracy African American Association.

Keynote speaker Audrey Harrison, a member of the Tracy African American Association and adviser of West High's Black Student Union, brought the theme of “The Power of a Dream” home by urging the more than 100 people there to keep their dreams alive.

“As I look around here today, I see the power of a dream,” she said. “All in one place, for one purpose — to be united. We’re the byproduct of perseverance in the midst of diversity.”

She spoke on the same day President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, was sworn in for his second four-year term in office.

“We sometimes forego a dream, and that is a sad state for us to be in,” Harrison said. “We have to hold on to our dreams. Hold on to it, whether it’s just for you or thousands. Dreams have changed the world before. We all have something that we’re here to do.”

Other highlights included Freiler Elementary School third-graders Mason Rivera and Jasdeep Buttar reciting a portion of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech — which King delivered in Washington, D.C., in 1963 — and a poetry reading of “I Still Rise” by Kimball High School 11th-graders ZaNiah Bradshaw and Khyra Kolidakis.

“This is our second year doing this, and we wanted to participate,” Bradshaw said. “I was nervous at first. It’s a great event for a community gathering and great fellowship.”

The MLK Image Awards were presented at the conclusion of the event.

This year, 2012 winners Nancy Young presented the award to her husband, James Young Sr., and Michael White handed the honors to Toni Beckham.

James Young Sr. was described by his wife as a man of many talents, including pastor, graphic designer, musician, published author and composer.

Beckham, White said, is the president of her own public relations agency, PR Etc., and contributor to numerous charity programs, including a school supply giveaway and coat collection.

During their acceptance speeches, Beckham reflected on how she found a family when she joined TAAA after moving to Tracy five years ago

Young simply said: “I like to be a servant, and that’s what I should continue to do.”

Paul Hall, director of students services and curriculum at Tracy Unified School District, also reminded the audience that the TAAA offers scholarship applications to students graduating from Tracy-area high schools looking to pursue their academic goals.

Adding an uplifting tone to the day were the musical performances of Kolidakis singing the National Anthem, Lydia Young singing the Black National Anthem, and the Kimball High School choir performing two songs under the direction of Cecile Henderson.

Gail Lagasca, who has attended the local MLK breakfast since it was first hosted with her husband, Mel, said the event continues to grow.

“I thought it was excellent,” Lagasca said. “The food was delicious, the keynote speaker, the young people speakers … it’s growing and getting better and better each year.”

“It gives you an uplifting feeling,” her husband said. “My favorite part was the choir, to see their emotion.”

Ruby Gray said she has attended the breakfast the past 12 years, and says it’s an event that helps one generation encourage the next.

“It’s important,” Gray said, “because we’re doing this for the kids — for them to know if they put their effort through they can achieve it; to keep reminding them that we’re here to support them, and they can fulfill their dream.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or

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January 21, 2013
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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