Carl Mack, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers will give the keynote speech at the University of Washington at Tacoma's second-annual Martin Luther King Day Unity Breakfast Jan. 21.
Other speakers include UW Tacoma Chancellor Patricia Spakes and Milgard School of Business alumnus Ed Ware. Tacoma gospel singer Crystal Aikin, the winner of BET's nationally televised "Sunday Best" gospel-music competition, will sing.
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."
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.
As part of the Martin Luther King Day celebrations, many students, staff and faculty are commemorating Dr. King's life by volunteering in service projects this month. The university's Diversity Resource Center has organized events for the national Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, designed as a way to bring Americans together to help solve social problems, strengthen communities and continue Dr. King's legacy.
"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.
UW Tacoma second-annual Martin Luther King Day Unity Breakfast: 8 a.m. Jan. 21.in the Longshoremen's Hall, 1710 Market St. Tacoma. For more information call 253-692-4810 or visit tacoma.washington.edu/diversity