Thursday, January 27, 2022
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TAASU hosts 24th annual Freedom Breakfast

The African American Student Union (TAASU), held its Freedom Breakfast on Wednesday to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work as a civil rights leader and to call young people to continue the fight for freedom.

This year was especially important for TAASU, as they recognized the 50th anniversary of King’s Aug. 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. The breakfast began with a video of the speech in its entirety, after which Aurielle Young, TAASU president, took the stage.

“It is important that we do not take the words of Dr. King and others for granted,” Young said.

This was the theme for the event, and it was emphasized by keynote speaker Gwendolyn Grant of the Kansas City Urban League.

“I believe far more young people are on the right path than those who are not,” Grant said. “But you have to step up. You have to step up your game.”

Grant urged students to rise to the call of leadership.

“Find your passion and get involved in something that is greater than yourself,” Grant said.

Tara Johnson spoke on behalf of the Herman Johnson Scholarship Fund. Her parents, Herman and Dorothy, created the scholarship to help black youth in Kansas City pursue a college education. Johnson stressed the amount of time youth have to change their world.

“There are 525,600 minutes in a year,” Johnson said. “What part of that are you using to make [yourself] a better neighbor in your community?”

UMKC Renewed Spirit Ministries presented a modern dance piece, John Lewis a.k.a. “Hypocrace” did an original spoken word act and student Jessica Mitchell sang the Black National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” during which much of the audience sang along.

Dr. Lynette Sparkman-Barnes was presented with the Dr. Joseph Seabrooks Jr. Award, an award given each year by the TAASU board to recognize a staff or faculty member for the leadership and support they lend to African American students. Sparkman-Barnes is the associate director of counseling services. Sparkman-Barnes graciously accepted the award, encouraging students to continue their hard work.

 

Author: Jake Newstrom

newstrom@unews.com

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