MLK Breakfast Brings a Pivotal Event to Life

Students Re-Enact Civil Rights March on Washington of 50 Years Ago

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Breakfast, UT Dallas

The students at the UT Dallas event became famous civil right leaders, reciting speeches delivered at the Lincoln Memorial 50 years ago.

UT Dallas students toting picket signs that demanded jobs, equal pay and integrated schools marched, protested and sang together at the University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr.  Celebration Breakfast.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom occurred on Aug. 28, 1963, during the height of the fight for civil rights. UT Dallas students brought history to life last week by re-enacting the event.

More than 200,000 people rallied together for civil and economic rights at the March on Washington 50 years ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his monumental  “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the crowd.

The students at the UT Dallas event became famous civil right leaders, reciting the speeches delivered at the Lincoln Memorial.

“This is the largest demonstration in the history of this nation,” said sophomore Tim Jackson, who stood in as A. Phillip Randolph. “It lets the nation and the world know the meaning of our numbers.”

Vaneda Valentine, a sophomore studying marketing and finance, read the words of Daisy Bates, who called for change through non-violence.

“We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit in, and we will kneel in, and we will lie in if necessary,” said Valentine.

MLK Breakfast Celebration

Alex Spurlock, a sophomore in marketing and global business, led the MLK march and sang "Amazing Grace."

Students playing the roles of Eugene Carson Blake, Walter Reuther, John Lewis, Joachim Prinz and Bayard Rustin also presented.

C. J. Phillips, a political science major, recited Dr. King’s famous speech.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” said Phillips, echoing King’s famous words through the applause of a standing crowd.

The Celebration Breakfast also included song and dance performances.

Alex Spurlock, a marketing and global business student, sang “Amazing Grace.”  Aundra Smith, of the Sacred Dance Ministry of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, danced as the audience clapped and swayed to “How I Got Over,” a song that was performed by Mahalia Jackson at the March on Washington.

At the end of the performances, student’s linked hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The event was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center, and the Student Union & Activities Advisory Board (SUAAB).

King’s birthday was Jan. 15.  President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King in 1983. It was observed for the first time on Jan. 20, 1986.

A Leader's Legacy

Participants in the University's annual Martin Luther King Jr. program were asked what the civil rights leader's legacy means to them in 2013.

“It makes me understand that justice and equality are worth fighting for in the status quo.  It makes me understand that my dreams are worth fighting for.”

C.J. Phillips,sophomore in political science,who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


“We must continue to overcome and fight for what Dr. King and many others lost their lives fighting for."

Vaneda Valentine,sophomore in marketing and finance,who portrayed Daisy Bates.


“As Americans, we are fortunate.  We ought to feel an obligation to help others, to receive happiness by seeing it in others, to strive for equal rights for those who are oppressed by the majority.  America can only survive by protecting the weak, and that's no job for a military, but for people; we are Dr. King's legacy.”

Zachary Stokes,junior in electrical engineering,who portrayed Rabbi Joachim Prinz 

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].