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Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Keynote speaker Lisa Hicks-Thomas encourages guests with a call to action.
Lisa Hicks-Thomas

A full house gathered early on Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders’ Breakfast, hosted by Tidewater Community College and the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc.

The event, themed “Live the Dream,” was hosted by WVEC’s LaSalle Blanks and held at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside.

TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani welcomed guests, noting, “This year’s ‘Live the Dream’ event reminds us of the significance of that memorable speech of 1963 when Dr. King’s vision of a truly united and just America riveted the American conscience, when his dream began to become a reality – and when his courage gave truth to his words.”

Keynote speaker Lisa Hicks-Thomas, Secretary of Administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia, shared thoughts on another famous King speech titled “Give Us the Ballot.” Hicks-Thomas spoke about her work to reinstate the rights of convicted felons who have paid their debt to society and now want to do their part as citizens.

“Without the right to vote we are not ourselves,” she said.

Hicks-Thomas encouraged attendees to continue King’s legacy with a call to action. “Dr. King believed fiercely in the opportunity of now,” she said. She closed with this quote by King: “Keep going today. Keep moving amid every obstacle. Keep moving amid every mountain of opposition.”

Six distinguished community leaders received the Martin Luther King Jr. awards at the breakfast for their continued service to the improvement of society. The 2013 honorees are:

Rev. Michael Toliver, pastor of First Baptist Church South Hill in Chesapeake, who leads “the loving church with the big heart.” The Chesapeake church has experienced major growth under Toliver, adding numerous ministries and outreach programs since he was installed as pastor in 1987;

L.D. Britt, Brickhouse Professor and chairman of surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School, who is renowned for his numerous leadership positions within health care and as a teacher  of medical students who benefit from his infinite wisdom, high standards and admirable work ethic;

Allen Hardin “Trey” White III, a Virginia Beach dentist, who founded Team Hoyt VB, which integrates the disabled into challenging able-bodied activities;

Gloria Peek, a mentor and coach to young men and women in Norfolk who have ambitions to be champions in the sport of boxing. Peek was named to the coaching staff of the U.S. Olympic boxing team last summer;

Tony and Monica Brothers, founders of the Still Hope Foundation, which provides education and personal support to single mothers.

Edith White, president and CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads closed the event with words of encouragement and by recognizing all of the higher education partners that support the annual breakfast. They are TCC, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Regent University and Eastern Virginia Medical School.