The month of January can be represented by two significant annual occurrences: the return to school for students across the country and the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The SNHU Office of Diversity celebrated the holiday by sponsoring the second annual MLK Breakfast on January 18.
The theme of this year’s breakfast was women and children of the Civil Rights Movement. Kayla Page, director of Diversity Programs, served as the host of the event.
“MLK breakfasts are historic, and we wanted to try to replicate that tradition,” said Page.
Upon arriving, attendees were given the opportunity to mingle with one another while feasting on an assortment of breakfast foods.
Among the attendees was Reverend Eric Jackson of the Brookside Congregational Church here in Manchester.
“I know of SNHU’s diversity program, and it sounds like your program is very vibrant,” said Jackson.
Reverend Jackson kicked off the event by leading the group in prayer.
Next, Professor Kenneth Nivison led a discussion about the role of women and children in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. Nivison teaches a Civil Rights course here at SNHU, but he admits that he previously had reservations about doing so.
“I put off teaching a Civil Rights course, because I felt that I wasn’t good enough; it’s such an important topic. Eventually I decided I had to do it.”
According to Nivison, the Women’s Movement was occurring concurrently with the Civil Rights Movement, and the latter was not immune from the misogyny that plagued many aspects of society. Despite this, women leaders such as Diane Nash, who coordinated sit-in protests and freedom rides, played a pivotal role in the progress of the movement.
Children are generally viewed as the beneficiaries of the movement, rather than the leaders, but African American youth made significant contributions to civil rights. Specifically, they engaged in non-violent demonstrations during the children’s crusade of 1963.
Page closed the event by speaking honestly about her mother, a white woman who married an African American man when it was uncommon and not widely accepted.
“She is a woman who served her community in subtle ways,” said Page.
2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. According to Page, the breakfast served as an excellent method to “honor history, legacy, Martin Luther King…and the lesser known elements of the movement.”