Remembering Dr. King: Holiday closing ups breakfast attendance


Joshua Boley

From lerft: Faustina Abrahams, first year advisor and coordinator, Gloria Faine, professor of teacher education and Alfred Cade interim dean for the school of education

This year’s breakfast to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. boasted record attendance. The event was held in the Connor Ballroom of the Billingsly Student Center of Missouri Southern on Jan. 20.

Faustina Abrahams, first year adviser and coordinator and member of the MLK Planning Committee, believed part of the reason for the higher turnout was because this was the first year Southern closed the campus in recognition of the fed

eral holiday.

“I have come to this breakfast for five years, and each year the turnout for the breakfast has been about 100 people and this year the count at the end of the day was 289,” Abrahams said.

The decision to close the campus is something JoAnn Graffam, vice president of University Advancement, agreed with.

“By having classes in session it makes it difficult for some students to participate in the community service,” Graffam said. “With us being off today, it opens it up to a broader group of people that can volunteer and come to the breakfast to honor him.”

The change from prior

years allowed the MLK Planning Committee and the Diversity Committee to make adjusts to campus’ normal celebrations to honor King. According to Abrahams, the committees considered leaving the breakfast at the old time of 7 a.m., but felt moving the time to 8 a.m. would encourage more people to attend.  

Abrahams also said this is the first year the committee offered sponsorship of tables for the breakfast. According to Abrahams, the 12 businesses that sponsored tables offset some of the cost of the event and encouraged community involvement.

The breakfast allowed those individuals to reflect on the life of King, in particular his ideals on service. This year’s keynote speaker was Jerrod Hogan, founder of the nonprofit group Rebuild Joplin.

“This year we wanted to bring someone from the local committee that is doing something because the theme was the service part,” Abrahams said.

Hogan talked about the importance of people broadening their circles to include helping others as a way to improve community. Rebuild Joplin is responsible for rebuilding or repairing over 100 homes since the tornado hit Joplin in May 2011.

Alfred Cade, interim dean for the school of education, said Hogan’s words were true for him.

“As far as the life of

Dr. King . . . his day is a day of service and what are we doing for our fellow man,” Cade said, “this breakfast was a time for us to remember, celebrate and to act. To act, as our speaker mentioned, to broaden our circle to serve others.”

This year’s breakfast also featured display of two quilts created by Southern faculty member Gloria Faine, professor of teacher education. Both quilts paid homage to Black History Month with one emphasizing the role of African American woman.

“I am an avid quilter and these seemed appropriate for the festivities today,” she said.

Faine said it took her over four years to collect all the T-shirts the quilts are made from, but only two weeks to create each quilt.

Abrahams said the breakfast represented part of King’s legacy as everyone there interacted without regards to racial boundaries.

“I think we can all walk away knowing we are one country and one people,” Abrahams said. “Whatever we do for one another, it is for the betterment of the community and for the betterment of humanity.”