Valerie Jarrett, CEO of the Barack Obama Foundation, will keynote the 33rd Martin Luther King annual breakfast in Minneapolis on Monday, January 16, 2023. Photo: Valerie Jarrett Twitter

Former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett will be the keynote speaker at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast on Jan. 16, which will return in-person for the first time since 2020 with a corresponding virtual program.

The in-person event will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center starting at 8 a.m.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1983 and is observed each year on the third Monday of January.

The annual breakfast, which is in its 33rd year, is presented by General Mills Inc. and the United Negro College Fund and was created to honor the legacy of the civil-rights leader by fundraising for UNCF to fund scholarships for Twin Cities students. The UNCF funds scholarships for Black students and general scholarship funds for private historically Black colleges and universities.

This year’s breakfast theme is “Keep Moving Forward,” inspired by Dr. King’s leadership and lessons applied to the pressing social issues of today, according to a news release from General Mills.

Entertainment at this year’s breakfast includes Minnesota’s four-sibling family band, NUNNABOVE, which describes itself as “positive alternative pop,” and Minneapolis-based TKO Drumline, a musical group founded in 2010 by Byron Hawkins to teach drumming techniques and rudiments to young people ages 8-18.

“The legacy and words of Dr. King continue to inspire our advocacy for the importance of minority education and community engagement,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “We are grateful to work in partnership with General Mills to bring our community together each year and build up the essential support and awareness for our students and HBCUs.”

Jarrett was senior adviser to President Obama from 2009 to 2017, making her the longest serving senior advisor to a president in history. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, published in April 2019.

Currently she is the CEO and a member of the board of directors of the Barack Obama Foundation. The foundation broke ground on the Obama Presidential Center in September 2021.

Previous breakfast keynote speakers have included Dr. Bernice King, Ambassador Andrew Young, the Honorable Eric H. Holder, CNN’s Laura Coates and Don Lemon, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, actor David Oyelowo, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Rev. Joseph Lowery, the late Yolanda King, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Marian Wright Edelman, Donna Brazile, Vernon Jordan and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

In-person ticket prices are $60 with a maximum of four tickets per purchase. Ticket prices for the virtual event are $30 per household ticket with one access code. Non-profit groups can purchase virtual tickets for $600 and receive 20 online access codes. Corporate virtual access codes are also available from $3,000 to $5,000.

Ticket purchases are available at

About Tom Gitaa Gitaa, Editor-in-Chief

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.

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