The 23rd Annual Malcolm/King Breakfast was held on Friday, February 22, in celebration of African American history, heritage, scholarship and community. With Dean of Students Kenneth Holmes serving as this year’s Master of Ceremonies, the breakfast serves as the culmination of a vibrant and rich Black History Month at John Jay College.
Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies Jannette Domingo provided welcoming remarks in which she noted that the Malcolm/King Breakfast has been held every year since 1991 amid a backdrop of political, economic and social challenges. “Today our challenges range from economic uncertainty to threats of violence, be they terrorism, gun violence or domestic violence. But in the midst of all of this, we need to create many opportunities to celebrate and nourish our spirits,” said Domingo.
Domingo observed how the breakfast is intended to honor the differences and shared characteristics and pursuit of equality of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., with a ceremony that pays homage to African American culture including music, spirituality, ritual, inspiration and shared knowledge.
After the Gregory Shepard vocal group sang the traditional “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jane Bowers welcomed the event’s honoree, the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, and keynote speaker, Dr. Hazel Dukes, saying that both individuals follow in a long line of stupendous Malcolm/King Breakfast speakers. “The message of King and Malcolm X still rings true today,” said Provost Bowers. “God knows we still need fierce advocates for justice in a world so full of injustice.”
The Provost said that the breakfast raises scholarship funds for future leaders, and that this year’s event would be the last for Dean Domingo, who was a founding member and first chair of the Breakfast Committee, and is retiring at the end of the year. Professor Delores Jones-Brown of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration recognized Dean Domingo with a plaque thanking her for her years of leadership, mentorship and vision. “Words cannot express the hole left in John Jay College by your departure,” said Professor Jones-Brown.
Dr. Forbes, known as “the preacher’s preacher,” is the Harry Emerson Fosdick Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary, and Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church. He also serves as president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation.
“John Jay College has always been open to everyone in the community,” he observed. “Diversity is not some philosophical theory or practice. This school seems to say if you have the commitment to the task, we don’t care what your previous conditions of servitude were. You come on in. It is normal and natural for all God’s children to have a place at the table. That’s why I like you.”
Dr. Dukes, the morning’s keynote speaker, is president of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Dean Holmes commended her for her great strength and courage.
“Once you’re accepted in this college, each one of you has the obligation to be the Martin and the Malcolm in your own way,” she told attendees. “You have the right to have your own direction of how you want to make your mark. But remember, to be a leader you need to have followers because if there are no followers you’re just a leader taking a walk.”
Dr. Dukes said she is working very hard on winning passage of the DREAM Act, “Because I can’t dream, if you can’t dream. I can’t go, if you can’t go. We are in this together.”
Professor C. Jama Adams, Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, presented the 2013 Malcolm/King Scholarship to Alejandro Madi and Hathor Nefertiti Williams.