18-year-old Marley Dias, one of Time Magazine’s 2018 “25 Most Influential Teens,” will make history on Jan. 15 when she becomes the youngest person to keynote the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast in Minneapolis, joining luminaries such as Dr. Bernice King and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis that have headlined it.
The annual breakfast which honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader will be marking its 34th year and is one of the nation’s largest. It is presented by General Mills and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to raise funds to fund college scholarships for Twin Cities students. The state’s education department recently revealed that Black Minnesotans have a postsecondary educational attainment rate of 31%, half of that of their white peers.
“Each year, this event gives us the opportunity to come together as a community to create an imperative to live out Dr. King’s legacy today and celebrate his unwavering commitment to education,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and global impact officer at General Mills.
The event’s theme, “Leading Onward– Elevating New Voices for Justice and Equality,” was inspired by Dr. King’s commitment to uplifting the youth in the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Yohuru Williams from the University of St. Thomas will lead a moderated conversation with Ms. Dias following her remarks.
The 18-year-old activist and cultural influencer first came to the national spotlight when in 2015, at the age of 11, she launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative, which aimed to collect and donate 1,000 books featuring Black girls as the main characters to schools and libraries across the United States. That initiative has collected 15,000 books-to-date.
She is a student at Harvard and also hosts and executive produces Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. Additionally, she serves as the ambassador of National Educational Association’s (NEA) Read Across America program.
This will also mark the longest consecutive streak of women keynote speakers in the breakfast’s history. Since 2021 when Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of the late civil rights leader, delivered a keynote along with Ambassador Andrew J. Young, speakers since then have been women.
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO at UNCF, in a statement Thursday praised his organization’s partnership with General Mills which he said has been critical in securing a college education for many underrepresented students in the Twin Cities.
“This year, UNCF celebrates its 80th anniversary, and through our incredible partnership with General Mills we have been able to provide unprecedented support for HBCUs and the students they’ve served over the decades,” said Dr. Lomax.
Minnesota’s four-sibling pop band, NUNNABOVE, will perform for the second year. They appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2018, and the group has since performed at a wide variety of local festivals, community events and fundraisers in and around the Twin Cities. Known MPLS, a youth choir, will also perform.
The event will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Doors open at 7 a.m.
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit MLKBreakfast.com. The event will include an ASL interpreter.
The event will also be broadcast on WCCO AM 830.