The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Kevin Powell speaks on the past, present and future of civil rights at annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast

Photo by Photo by Dylan Manshack

Kevin Powell spoke at the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. 

Keynote speaker Kevin Powell paralleled current social issues with the leadership and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual breakfast honoring King on Thursday.
The MSC Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee presented its 11th annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast to commemorate the accomplishments and reflect on the teachings of the civil rights leader. This breakfast is held in similar forms across the nation in celebration of King’s birthday, a national holiday. King would have turned 89 this year.
The breakfast began with welcomes, followed by a rendition of the Black American National Anthem sung by Texas A&M choral group Voices of Praise and an introduction of the keynote speaker. Kevin Powell is a public speaker, writer and philanthropist who has been renowned in hip-hop culture as well as civil rights activism.
Powell was mediated in a question and answer session conducted by A&M history professor Albert Broussard. Powell answered Broussard’s questions about specific events that led to discussions of social and economic equality, characteristics of a good leader and the importance of studying history in its full context.
Powell said during his education, the subjects of women’s history, American history and civil rights were neglected or misrepresented. He stressed the importance for young people to receive a good education, fight for social justice and eventually become leaders by emphasizing the phrase, “#readstudytravel.”
Public service and administration graduate student Jonathan Slater said the unique strength of having a dialogue instead of a speech for the keynote address was the feeling of continued interaction created between audience and speaker.
“Well, the thing about conversations is, it’s an opportunity not only to speak but also to listen,” Slater said. “Conversations are beautiful, because it’s the give and take. It’s the ‘I learn from you. You learn from me,’ and so the hope from a conversation is that you can continue conversations, to continue to learn and continue to grow and continue to give and continue to love.”
Student body president and economics senior Bobby Brooks said he appreciated Powell’s audience engagement and balance of lightheartedness with more serious topics. He said Powell presented truths that averted from the positive highlights in his lifetime.
“I think it challenges the system as a whole to be quite honest, and I love that,” Brooks said. “He’s challenging these old notions of — and I’ll even go so far as to say white-washed — history, in the sense of Martin Luther King Jr. being this peaceful person who only protested or did things the way that the white structure, the white system would want.”
Darren Dubose, public service and administration graduate student, noted that the timing of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month is immediately after the beginning of a new year. He said this timing is a fresh start and ideal for important conversations.
“I think leading up to Black History Month and all of the different months, I think this is time for us just to have those conversations on what the issues we need to talk about and how we should move forward,” Dubose said. “I think it helps guide the conversation not just for us but for the next generation as well.”

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