MLK breakfast focuses on “healing our communities”

Story Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2014 15:34:00 EST

EVMS and the Urban League of Hampton Roads. Inc. teamed up to put on the 30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Leaders’ Breakfast Jan. 20 at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center in Portsmouth. View images from the event.

Speaking to the day’s theme of “Healing Our Communities,” guest speaker Marc Nivet, EdD, Chief Diversity Officer with the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the audience of more than 600 business and community leaders that the U.S. is falling behind other nations. As an example, he cited China, which each year has more students who score the equivalent of perfect scores on the SAT than the U.S. has students graduating from high school.

To be competitive, he said, communities must work to create fair and equal opportunity for all.

“It’s not about being excellent and diverse,” Dr. Nivet said. “It’s that we can’t be excellent without diversity.”

To make a difference, he said, we need to create fair and equal opportunity.

“Some people have staircases to opportunity,” Dr. Nivet said. “Some have escalators to opportunity. The role of our community-based institutions is to turn the staircases to opportunity into escalators to opportunity.”

Cynthia Romero, MD, State Health Commissioner and a 1993 graduate of EVMS, had similar words of encouragement. She said that through collaboration and cooperation we can find creative solutions, reach beyond barriers and seek innovative strategies to achieve health equity.

“Together,” she said, “we can heal our communities one disparity, one family, one person at a time.”

The annual breakfast event also was the occasion for presentation of the Community Leaders’ Awards, which honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The recipients were:

  • Fredda Bryan, Community Health Advisor/Associate Director, American Cancer Society
  • Dr. Carlos Campo, President, Hispanic Education Alliance
  • Gail Easley, Executive Director, Crispus Attucks Cultural Center
  • Sharon McDonald, Commissioner of the Revenue, City of Norfolk
  • Kevin Turpin, Director, Life Enrichment Center of Norfolk
  • Boo Williams, Founder, Boo Williams Sportsplex

In addition to EVMS, other academic sponsors of the Urban League’s 30th annual breakfast included Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Regent University and Tidewater Community College.

The Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. founded in 1978, enables African Americans and others to secure economic self-reliance, parity and power and civil rights. The organization implements its mission by providing services and programs in education, employment, health and housing to Hampton Roads communities through direct services, advocacy, research, policy analysis, community mobilization and collaboration throughout communities.

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