The idea started in 1985 in the basement of a small church, Parker Memorial AME Zion Church, on Broad Street in Meriden. Local resident and elementary school teacher Rhudean Raye began an event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and local community activist Al Owens.
The idea was to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory with a scholarship breakfast to assist worthy college-bound students with an annual scholarship. As the event grew larger, it moved first to Washington Middle school then on to Maloney High School. It has now become one of the largest and best attended events on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in Connecticut.
This event has continued uninterrupted for 35 years but had to be cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 restriction on large gatherings. Event founder and, still, event chairwoman, Raye, now 94, is feeling sad. “I’m feeling depressed today because we had to cancel our annual breakfast through no fault of our own. It means our mission to raise scholarship funds this year will be cut short,” she said.
We can’t let this happen. Now more than ever, with racial strife and divisiveness on the rise, we need to meet the challenge for a more just society for all — a society where everyone has a fair opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
Our future lies with our youth, they need our support to lead us to a more peaceful and enlightened society. As Dr. King said; “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Not willing to be defeated with this year’s event cancellation, we are reaching out to the community along with our other longtime supporters to ask that you make a contribution to the Dr. Martin King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast Fund to continue supporting scholarships for local students.
Contributions can be made to: MLK Scholarship Program, c/o Rhudean Raye, Chairwoman, 16 Rogers Drive, Meriden, Ct 06450
Michael S. Rohde, a Meriden city councilor, is a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Scholarship Committee.