Local gospel singer, noted leader to appear at Jan. 21 event
Celebrate the legacy of one of the world's greatest civil-rights leaders at UW Tacoma's second-annual Martin Luther King Day Unity Breakfast Monday, Jan. 21 at 8 a.m. in the Longshoremen's Hall, 1710 Market St.
Carl Mack, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers and a popular former leader in the Puget Sound African-American community, will deliver the keynote address. Tacoma gospel singer Crystal Aikin, the winner of BET's nationally televised "Sunday Best" gospel-music competition, will sing.
Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for UW Tacoma students and $5 for children under age 10. A catered breakfast will be provided. Space is very limited, and advance registration is required by Jan. 14. The event is presented by the university and the Black Student Union at UW Tacoma. To register, call (253) 692-4810 or visit tacoma.uw.edu/diversity. Bryan Neal, a UW Tacoma sophomore and vice president of the Black Student Union, said he's looking forward to celebrating Dr. King's legacy with the Tacoma community.
"I believe Dr. King created what we have today — not just for African-Americans, but for everybody," he said. "He helped bring us all together. My generation didn't live through it, so it's nice to come together to learn about what it was like and talk about how we can keep progressing."
Other speakers include UW Tacoma Chancellor Patricia Spakes and Milgard School of Business alumnus Ed Ware.
Mack, the former president of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has been executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers since 2005. He is a noted historian, author and speaker whose work has been featured around the country, and is considered one of the most effective leaders in the history of the Seattle NAACP.
Aikin, 33, rose to fame this fall on "Sunday Best," an "American Idol"-style music competition for gospel singers. A Fife native who works as an emergency room nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center, Aikin was selected from among thousands of contestants to perform on the show and took the majority of more than 1.5 million votes from viewers of the Dec. 4 finale.
Also as part of the Martin Luther King Day celebrations, many UW Tacoma students, staff and faculty are commemorating Dr. King's life by volunteering in service projects this month. UW Tacoma's Diversity Resource Center is organizing several projects around Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a national event designed as a way to bring Americans together to help solve social problems, strengthen communities and continue Dr. King's legacy. Members of the UW Tacoma community will volunteer at several community organizations from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25.
"Martin Luther King Day is a day on, not a day off, and that's one of the things I really like about it," Neal said.