J’Vaughn, 8, needed a step stool to reach the microphone as he repeated King’s words —originally heard from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963 — to members of the Tracy community gathered for the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Monday, Jan. 20.
The annual breakfast was hosted by the black student unions from West, Kimball and Stein high schools, with sponsorship from Tracy African American Association, Tracy Unified School District, African American Educators Association of TUSD and the city of Tracy.
J’Vaughn, a third-grade student at Freiler School, ended his presentation — titled “I Have a Dream Too!” — by talking about his own dreams of a world free from homelessness and bullying.
“Every time I see a homeless, I ask, ‘Mom, can I give them food?’ When I see someone get bullied, I tell them to stop being mean,” J’Vaughn said. “I want to be a leader, I need to step up.”
He said he was nervous standing in front of the crowd, but it reminded him of King: “I like the way he spoke in front of 10 million people.”
The boy’s speech was one of many presentations at the breakfast that celebrated King’s life and work with a theme of “Empowering a new generation of MLKs.”
As he watched J’Vaughn’s presentation, James Young, president of Tracy African American Association, said he was glad to see a passion for the past taken up by a new generation.
“Somebody has taken him by the hand and shown him our history, and we need more of that,” Young said. “There are so many that don’t know the history — so many disconnected high school age and adults.”
Young said the names of all of those who struggled for civil rights are often forgotten.
“In my mind, I ask, Have we done a good job with this new generation, this millennium generation,” Young said. “They need to know the history of the civil rights movement.”
Maliek Fisher, 15, also watching the breakfast presentation, said he and his peers were responsible for taking up King’s legacy and sharing the heritage of the civil rights movement.
“I actually think it’s gotten better — there hasn’t been as much bullying,” he said. “It’s important to pass along the history.”
His friend William Carothers, 17, agreed that their generation must take action.
“It is so that all the people know how this nation got here, what really happened and what the world has become,” Carothers said.
During the breakfast, the Tracy African American Association named Frew Tibebu the recipient of its 2014 MLK Image Award. Tibebu is the association’s membership chairman and a volunteer board member of Ethiopia Reads, an organization creating a reading culture in Ethiopia. The award was accompanied by certificates and recognition from congressional, state, county and city representatives
Dr. James Franco, TUSD superintendent, was surprised with special honors later during the event.
Franco received the Spirit of Dr. King Award 2014 for Vision, Leadership Empowerment from the African American Education Association, the Black Student Union and the Tracy African American Association.
He was also presented with an honorary MLK Image Award.
The breakfast also featured several musical and reading presentations and a keynote address delivered by West High BSU adviser Stephen Callahan.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.