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Young recalls MLK Jr. words of inspiration to propel further difference making

Contact: Allison Matthews

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State celebrated its 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast with students, faculty and staff, joined by community members, clergy and elected officials, filling the event room, despite looming winter weather.

Supported by numerous sponsors, the event is hosted annually by ֱ's Division of Access, Opportunity and Success. Keynote speaker Camille Scales Young, a two-time ֱ alumna who serves as principal and director with Cornerstone Government Affairs, gave remarks reflecting on King’s legacy and ways to carry his dream forward. 

ֱ President Mark E. Keenum presents an engraved cowbell to Camille Scales Young, keynote speaker for the university’s 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday [Jan. 15].
ֱ President Mark E. Keenum presents an engraved cowbell to Camille Scales Young, keynote speaker for the university’s 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday [Jan. 15]. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

“I am grateful for this gathering and inspired to see all of you as we gather to commemorate the legacy of a man who dedicated his life to justice, equality, and the relentless pursuit of a dream,” Young said. “On this special day, we honor not only the memory of the dreamer, but we also focus on continuing his efforts for the betterment of mankind and making his dream a reality.”

Young referenced several of King’s notable quotes that continue to inspire both those who worked during the Civil Rights Movement as well as younger generations.

“As we remember Dr. King’s words, let us not merely echo them on this annual holiday but live their meaning in our actions, policies, and in our everyday interactions. It is important that we remember what Dr. King said, ‘the time is always right to do what is right.’ That was true then and definitely is true today. Let’s be extremely proud of how far we’ve come in our world and still be very realistic about how far we have yet to go. We can make a difference,” Young said.

The Shannon native and former national board president of the ֱ Alumni Association earned a 1994 bachelor’s in communication and a 1996 master’s in agriculture and extension education with an emphasis in public policy. She has received numerous prestigious accolades, including being named the 2021 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Fellow, a member of the Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 50 Business Women, and a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scout Council of Middle Mississippi. In 2017, she was in the inaugural class of Top 50 Most Influential People in Mississippi. She and her husband Keith, residents of Madison County, are parents of three children, including two ֱ graduates.

Members of the Kappa Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., gave a special tribute during the university’s 30th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Monday [Jan. 15].
Members of the Kappa Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., give a special tribute during the university’s annual MLK Jr. program. (Photo by Jonah Holland)

ֱ President Mark E. Keenum also gave his annual welcoming remarks and recognized special participating student organizations, the Black Voices Gospel Choir and the Kappa Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., as well as program moderator Bria Young, an ֱ sociology doctoral student focusing on African American Studies. He touted ֱ’s culture of diversity and family, along with some national diversity recognition the university has received in recent months.

“It’s a reflection of the values and commitments our institution has of making everyone—and I mean everyone who steps foot on our campus—feel welcome,” he said.

Keenum said ֱ is the most diverse university in the Southeastern Conference and the most diverse land-grant university in the nation, with students coming from every county in Mississippi, every U.S. state, and approximately 90 other nations.

“With all of the differences we have from around the world, I tell students we have one thing in common—we’re all Bulldogs,” said Keenum, adding that Bulldogs have a distinctive culture of looking out and caring for one another.

Despite frigid temperatures, many MLK Jr. Day of Service activities continued after the breakfast, with university and community volunteers working at various organizations around Starkville and the Golden Triangle.

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