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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Crowd Celebrates MLK's Passion for Education and Social Justice at 31st Annual Community Leaders' Breakfast

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On February 10, 1961, the 32-year old Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered those words on the campus of New York University. In the speech, entitled, "The Future of Integration," King advocated for civil rights and nonviolent protest for social change.

It is not surprising that such powerful words were delivered on a university campus. King was a tireless champion of the power of education to bring about consequential, positive change.

On Monday, Jan. 19, the holiday created in King's memory, a large crowd gathered at Old Dominion University to celebrate his life and passion.

At ODU's 31st annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Leaders' Breakfast, presented in conjunction with the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc., attendees heard passionate words about growing Virginia from Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

McAuliffe, the keynote speaker for the event, said Virginians must work together, and work passionately, to move the state forward.

"If we want to grow our economy, if we want to make lives better for all Virginians, we need educators, we need entrepreneurs, we need our military, we need the strength of all of us, working together," McAuliffe said.

Entitled "Empowerment through Education, Engagement and Entrepreneurship," the breakfast also featured an address by Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Jones, who was appointed Secretary of Commerce and Trade by McAuliffe in January 2014, previously served as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from April 2012 through January 2014. Prior to HUD, Jones was President of Pilot Media, the largest print and digital organization in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Wilbert "Wil" James, an ODU graduate and president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, served as honorary chair of this year's Dr. MLK, Jr. Community Leaders' Breakfast, which included the presentation of the 2015 Community Leaders' Awards.

Award recipients included Robert Ayers, executive director of human affairs (retired) for the City of Newport News; Bruce Hacker, President and CEO of INTER-OP.Net, Inc.; Gilbert Bland, chairman of the Giljoy Group; Barbara Hamm Lee, executive producer and host of WHRO's "Another View"; Eric Fox, first vice president, Financial Service Incorporated, Norfolk; and Deborah Stearns, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle.