Amplifying the life, legacy and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Pitt Community College’s 2023 MLK Scholarship Tribute Breakfast was held on January 12 in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s lifetime of civil rights service. This year more than 100 community leaders, elected officials, and students gathered on the campus of PCC for the 11th annual tribute breakfast, themed “Amplify: Empowering Voices Through Advocacy.”
This year’s breakfast was the first time bring people back together for the in-person convening since 2020.
Greg Hedgepeth, president, and CEO of Substantial, was this year’s keynote speaker. In his address titled “Living up to the expectations,” Greg spoke about Dr. King’s ability to communicate and use history and rhetoric to educate, engage and excite the masses.
In his speech, he posed three rhetorical questions to the audience; have we lived up to King’s expectations, or for that matter, have we lived up to our own, or are we stuck and destined to continue to repeat ourselves? He also asked the audience to consider “their individual privilege, and ponder if those privileges have softened their commitment to ensuring the dream be realized not just for one’s self but for the whole of our community, for the whole of our nation? Lastly, he asked, “what will they do about it? What will be their life’s blueprint?
Greg also drew on a host of Dr. King’s famous speeches, interviews, and addresses, to make the correlation between how relevant King’s words are today. Comparing King’s words in his speech titled “The Other America” in 1967 where King stated “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so, in a real sense, our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
Greg said, “One might say that King was speaking about the very riots and protests of our time due to the tragic loss of Black lives.”
Greg ended his speech with the very charge that King gave to a group of young students during his address at Spelman College in 1960. “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
The event was an opportunity to not only honor Dr. King’s work but the work of those within the community that are continuing to advocate for social justice, equality and change. Among those honored was Ms. Minerva Freeman with the 2023 Dream Award and this years MAC Scholarship recipient Cedrick Lee.
Read more news about the 2023 MLK Tribute Event.