Members of the MSU Denver and greater Denver communities came together on campus Jan. 18 to celebrate the life, legacy and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. at the 22nd annual MLK Peace Breakfast in Tivoli Turnhalle.
The breakfast promotes diversity and equality and also honors recipients of the MLK Peace Award for their commitment to King’s ideals. This year’s award winners are Ramón Del Castillo, chair and associate professor of Chicana/o studies, Mary Hanewall, retired executive director of the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, and student Mahdyeh Hosseini Nowkhandan.
“The MLK Peace Breakfast is just one of many opportunities that we at MSU Denver have to recognize the commitment and dedication that Dr. King had and brought to the movement that permanently and positively changed our society,” said Vicki Golich, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. “As educators, the faculty and staff at MSU Denver recognize the critical role our campus plays in helping students who otherwise would not have the opportunities to achieve their personal and professional dreams…the dream so eloquently described by Dr. King in that famous 1963 speech.”
Golich said King’s vision has a special meaning for MSU Denver, the leader in diversity among Colorado’s four-year institutions and the first college or university in the state to offer a special tuition rate for undocumented students.
Tamara Banks, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, was the master of ceremonies for the event, which also featured music by the Colorado Movement choir.
This year’s special guest was Vincent Harding, a past recipient of the Peace Award, a friend of Dr. King and professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at the Iliff School of Theology. Instead of giving a speech, Harding facilitated a 30-minute discussion prompted by the question, “What do you think Martin Luther King would be asking us to be involved in in 2013?”
Nowkhandan shared stories about her family and expressed concerns about poverty, mental illness, voter suppression and racism.
Nowkhandan, who is studying to be a teacher, has organized food drives on campus and facilitated campus partnerships with Food for Thought, an organization that provides meals for low-income elementary school students.
Del Castillo is a civil rights activist, scholar and mentor for the College Assistance Migrant Program. He has collaborated with various groups on campus and in the community to address social injustices and promote diversity. He has testified before the state legislature for the ASSET bill and received numerous honors for his commitment to civil rights and peaceful social change.Hanewall has raised millions of dollars for the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, which helps disadvantaged students achieve academic success through mentoring, academic assistance, life-skills development, cultural enrichment and partial scholarships for higher education.
Award nominees are considered for the honor based on advocacy, community activism and the depth of involvement in their causes.
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