January 19, 2013 8:54:54 PM
Mississippi State University will hold its 19th annual Unity Breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
The event will include keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.
"He is someone who I think has demonstrated commitment to hard work, excellence, merit," MSU President Mark Keenum told University Relations. "(He's) just an outstanding leader."
This year represents the 50th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, an iconic moment in national history. But 2013 also represents the 50th anniversary of a watershed moment in MSU history, as well, when the Bulldog basketball team defied a court order and a mandate from state government leaders to participate in the NCAA Tournament. Mississippi officials had ruled that MSU could not play against a team with black players. With no small amount of stealth, the MSU team left for the tournament, losing to Loyola, of Chicago. It was the first MSU or Ole Miss ever competed against integrated competition.
"I think that sent a message throughout the nation that things were changing in our state and changing for the good," Keenum said. "(It was a) defining moment."
Keenum noted that, today, Mississippi State has the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference.
The breakfast begins at 7 a.m. at the Colvard Student Union and is free to the public.
There are also several other events going on Monday in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Volunteer Starkville has coordinated with a number of local organizations to get the word out about different service projects in the community.
In partnership with the Maroon Volunteer Center, Volunteer Starkville will host its first ever Martin Luther King Day of Service at the Starkville Sportsplex from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.
The event is free, but Volunteer Starkville Director Jamey Matte said the organization is asking those who attend to bring items the can donate to a school supply drive for the county.
The drive has been going on since Wednesday, but collections have been set up outside of Walmart. Monday there will be collections taken at the Sportsplex.
Matte said the event will be focused on involving children.
"We will have a lot of kids activities, because we wanted to get them involved and have fun, but learn a little bit about Martin Luther King and what he did for our nation's civil rights and about his legacy of service," she said.
Last year, Volunteer Starkville performed a beautification project with the Starkville Fire Department.
For more information and a complete list of events, visit http://volunteerstarkville.org