On Monday, Jan. 18, Macalester will host its second annual simulcast of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast held in Minneapolis. This year’s keynote speaker is Deval Patrick, the former Governor of Massachusetts.
Last year, classes started during the same week as MLK Day, which allowed a large number students to attend the breakfast event.
“It was wildly successful,” Dean of Multicultural Life Chris MacDonald-Dennis said. “Students woke up at 7:30 a.m. and were dressed — [they] really took it seriously. I was really impressed. I was so impressed with the students and how much they really enjoyed it.”
“We got great feedback on it last year,” Title IX Coordinator and Director of Equity Karla Benson Rutten added.
About 300 people attended last year’s breakfast on campus, including students, faculty, staff and community members. The organizers are hoping for a similar turnout this year.
A similar event is also hosted at various churches and community spaces in the area. Most of the breakfasts in those places are largely or completely funded by General Mills, a sponsor of the MLK Breakfast.
“We are using our privilege for good,” MacDonald-Dennis said. “We don’t need to get funding because we have the money here to be able to do it, we have the resources. I always believe that with great privileges come great responsibility.”
The breakfast opens Macalester’s doors to community members, involving them in the college’s commitment to service and multicultural life.
To involve more community members and advertise to a wider group, Macalester is partnering with Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul, a coalition of churches in the area.
“It’s a way to bring people on campus that may never come to Macalester and to get to know us in a different way,” MacDonald-Dennis said.
The event is meant to offer a learning experience for its attendees.
“I think that you will see an event that is from a Black cultural tradition. I remember last year Yolanda Adams sang the Black national anthem and many students were like, ‘I didn’t know there was a Black national anthem,’” MacDonald-Dennis said.
There will be various activities on campus during the day that students can attend, whether or not they attended the breakfast. The breakfast will go from about 7:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m., with table discussions and questions afterwards.
One of the most important discussion questions is “how we as a community can think about the legacy of Dr. King,” Benson Rutten said.
In celebration of the Day of Service, there will also be service projects on campus the afternoon of MLK Day for interested students. That evening there will likely be a screening of a movie related to topics discussed that day.
The breakfast is meant to be a time for attendees to reflect on their own service in their own communities and to think about how to be more effective in furthering Dr. King’s dream.
“My hope is that people learn something about themselves and about their community…that people are inspired to make positive change in their communities and within their spheres of influence,” Benson Rutten said. “I think it’s worth the time even though it’s early on a Monday.”
The deadline for student-only registration is Dec. 1, but students will still be able to register with general community members after that date. The event is free for all who can come.
If any student would like to help organize a service project on campus that day, they may email Karla Benson Rutten at [email protected]