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Vernon Jordan calls for renewed hope, meaningful action at the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast


Vernon E. Jordan, renowned civil rights leader, presidential advisor, attorney and business leader, delivered the keynote address at the 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday breakfast on the theme “Infinite Hope, Meaningful Action.”

In his remarks to a sold-out audience at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Jordan said: “Today we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at a tense moment in America. We gather at a time when, for all too many, hope feels all too finite and, from all across the nation, meaningful actions seem few and far between. So on this day, we can talk about Martin’s courage, we can talk about his bravery, we can talk about his vision and his dream of an America in which black and white children stride arm in arm into a better future. But, we must also ask ourselves how he would react to the America we live in today.”

Urging Americans to boldly stand-up and answer one of Dr. King’s most burning questions ‘Where do we go from here?,’ Jordan noted “It is a question as relevant to our day as it was to [Dr. King’s].” He went on to say that we must renew our hope in order to answer Dr. King’s question.

“Hope in spite of all obstacles. Hope in the face of defeat. Hope against all odds. Hope, no matter what comes,” said Jordan. “But hope alone, moves no mountains. And that is where meaningful action must come in. The system today cries out for reform, but it also calls for wise actions and measured responses for change.”

A dedicated civil rights activist, Jordan became field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Georgia in 1961 after graduating from Howard University Law School. He then went on to hold prominent posts in the United Negro College Fund, National Urban League and among others. In 1992, Jordan served as the Chairman of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, helping to guide the new president’s transition into office.

Jordan holds honorary degrees from more than 70 colleges and universities in America. He is a member of the Bars of Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Georgia and the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, he is a senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York where he works with a diverse group of clients across a broad range of industries.

Accompanying Jordan in headlining this year’s breakfast was special musical guest Yolanda Adams, a Grammy award-winning gospel artist. General Mills and UNCF also presented the first Lifetime Local Legends award to Dr. Josie Robinson Johnson for her life-long commitment to education, civil rights, social justice and ensuring that our children have an opportunity to achieve.

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, also spoke at the breakfast, saying: “This breakfast, in my judgment, is one of the most impressive and significant Martin Luther King, Jr. events held anywhere in the country. For a quarter of a century now, this event has brought us thoughtful and challenging messages, inspired by the life and work of Dr. King. As a community and as a nation, we much persist in seeking, working for and championing the positive change Dr. King dreamed of.”

On the theme of “Infinite Hope, Meaningful Action,” the 2015 breakfast challenged attendees, viewers and community members to ask themselves what Dr. King believed to be life’s most persistent and urgent question: ‘What are you doing for others?’

“On this day, we remember Dr. King as a beacon of infinite hope and his tireless dream for equality, unity and positive change,” said Donzel Leggett, chair of the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast committee and vice president of manufacturing, International at General Mills. “But as President Obama once said, ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’”

In an effort to drive positive change across the Twin Cities community, General Mills has partnered with local Fortune 500 companies and HandsOn Twin Cities to form a new initiative – the Corporate Community Service Coalition. The mission of the Coalition is to log 25,000 incremental volunteer hours during the week of MLK Day. To do so, hundreds of employees from participating companies including 3M, Ameriprise, Aveda, Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cargill, Carlson, Ecolab, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Medtronic, Target and UnitedHealth Group are coming together to volunteer on MLK Day and throughout the week at food banks, homeless shelters, meals programs, community centers, and more.

Volunteer opportunities are available online for those inspired to take action.

The breakfast was broadcast live on Twin Cities Public Television and will be rebroadcast on the statewide Minnesota channel during the remainder of January and early February. It is also available online at

As in the past, the St. Paul Area Council of Churches hosted simultaneous, free community breakfasts in St. Paul, West St. Paul, Mahtomedi, Duluth and River Falls, Wis., that allow guests to watch the event live together on television.

Learn more about the 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast by visiting

The annual holiday breakfast began when UNCF and the General Mills Foundation joined together to host a community celebration to honor the legacy of Dr. King. What started with 800 guests in 1991 has grown so large that it reaches capacity seating at the Minneapolis Convention Center as one of the largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday breakfasts in the nation. Past speakers have included Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Rev. Joseph Lowery, the late Yolanda King, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Marian Wright Edelman and Donna Brazile.

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African-American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. In its nearly 70-year history, the UNCF has raised more than $3.6 billion to help more than 400,000 students. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at

The mission of the General Mills Foundation is to nourish communities.  Continuing its tradition of generous giving and global community support, General Mills contributed more than $150 million to charitable causes in fiscal year 2014.  General Mills invests in and collaborates with community organizations and programs that focus on alleviating hunger, advancing nutrition wellness and improving education.  In addition, 83 percent of U.S. employees volunteer.  To learn more about the ways General Mills nourishes lives through philanthropy and community engagement, please join us on Facebook at or visit us at


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