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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

MLK Breakfast to host activist Ruby Bridges Thursday

Photo by Photo via Creative Commons

A young Ruby Bridges is escorted down the stairs on her first day at an otherwise all-white school in 1960.

Ruby Bridges, a civil rights activist who became a civil rights icon at only 6 years old, will speak at the 10th Annual MLK Breakfast Thursday to honor Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and impact on the Civil Rights Movement.
Hosted by the MSC Woodson Black Awareness Committee, the event will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the MSC Bethancourt Ballroom. The morning will consist of a breakfast banquet, two special guests — spoken word performer Prentice Powell and Bridges — and a Q&A session for the audience with the speaker.
Bridges was the first black student to attend William Frantz Public School in New Orleans in 1960 at 6 years old. As she walked the halls on her first day of school, she was met with angry protesters and a year-long boycott as students’ parents pulled their children from the school. Today, Bridges chairs the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which works to promote tolerance and respect.
MLK Breakfast executive director and university studies sophomore Kameron Turner said the central purpose behind the event is to honor Martin Luther King and remember his impact on society.
“We wanted to do something to honor MLK and let everyone know that he is important to society today,” Turner said. “This is the only program that A&M does for MLK, so this is a campus-wide program.”
Turner said anyone is welcome to attend and the organization hopes for a diverse audience.
“We try to get as many people as possible and as much diversity as possible, so it’s available to anyone who wants to come,” Turner said. “Some people travel from different states just to come to this breakfast. It’s available to the community as well as A&M faculty and students.”
Compared to last year’s breakfast, this year’s event will be smaller in order to maintain quality, and so far more than 500 people have signed up to come, Turner said.
“Last year, it was a crowd of 900 plus, and this year we capped it at 750 just because we wanted to bring back that banquet style breakfast, and we prefer quality over quantity,” Turner said.
In addition to the Thursday breakfast, Turner invited anyone interested to come to the pre-program, a showing of the Disney film “Ruby Bridges: A True American Hero,” which will take place Wednesday in the MSC 2405 at noon and again at 7 p.m.
Turner said Bridges was selected as a guest speaker for the breakfast because of the similarities between her challenges and those King faced at the time.
“[Bridges] is an advocate for integration,” Turner said. “At 6 years old, she integrated a public school in Louisiana … and she also went through a lot of the same hardships [as King]. So the discrimination factor, the psychological problems of ‘Am I good enough?’ — similar things that MLK went through.”
Turner said each year the event has a different theme chosen by the committee, and this year the theme is “Let Your Light Shine.”
“I just want to get the message out there that no matter how old you are, no matter how insignificant you think you are, you have the power to do something great,” Turner said. “That’s kind of where our theme ‘Let Your Light Shine’ comes from.”
Marquette Pradia, kinesiology senior and chair of MSC WBAC, hopes people will walk away from the event with a broadened understanding of the values King believed in and promoted.
“I’m hoping that people will understand what exactly Martin Luther King stood for and understand what’s needed to actually fulfill the dream,” Pradia said. “And move forward to ensure that the rights are maintained no matter who’s in office and no matter what events happen on campus.”
Pradia said she is looking forward to hearing Bridges speak because of the way her courage and hope for integration still positively impacts people’s lives today, even at A&M.
“Hearing her speak and giving us her perspective of being the first African American child to be integrated into an all white school system — I really value that because she took that step and I’m now able to go A&M as a black woman because of her movement to be integrated into a white school system,” Pradia said.
Vice chair of WBAC  and economics junior Sade Hill said the annual MLK breakfast is the biggest event of the year for her organization.
“I think with all the current events that are happening, I think it’s perfect timing for Ruby to be here,” Hill said. “She set the pace for integration in the South, and with Texas A&M being a very predominantly white institution, very southern, conservative university, it’s a really remarkable experience.”
Hill said she encourages attendees to use the event to try and learn something new.
“Get out of your mind frame, try to look at it from someone else’s perspective — anything, not necessarily race relations,” Hill said. “Just take a step and try to hear someone else’s story; it will be well worth it. You definitely are always going to leave with something that you didn’t have in the first place; that’s a guarantee.”

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