Capacity Crowd Attends Annual MLK Tribute
Multicultural Activities Committee Presents Scholarships to Three Students
WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College honored the life of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday with a program that featured the presentation of scholarships to three students who truly understand the importance of multiculturalism and acceptance.
As part of the 5th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Breakfast, the PCC Multicultural Activities Committee presented scholarships to Briana Boone, Zachary McKinney and Allison Lennon. The awards were given in memory of longtime Greenville attorney Earl T. Brown, a champion of education and civil rights who passed away in a car accident nearly one year ago.
Brown's son, Derek, and his widow, Hazel, were on hand to present the scholarships, after they announced that the Earl T. Brown Charitable Fund would provide matching funds for all three awards.
With the match, Boone’s scholarship totaled $1,000 while McKinney and Lennon, who were not in attendance due to classroom obligations, received $600- and $400-scholarships, respectively. The money will go toward the students’ spring semester educational expenses.
Boone, who came to PCC from Virginia Beach, is a university transfer student in her final semester at the college. She will move on to East Carolina University (ECU) to major in sports studies and minor in marketing.
Also a university transfer student, McKinney wants to teach history and anthropology and will transfer to ECU to pursue a four-year degree in education.
Lennon, a PCC Student Ambassador, is in the nursing program at Pitt. Upon completion of her associate degree, she will enroll at ECU for a bachelor’s degree through the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses program.
Upon receiving her scholarship last week, Boone spoke about her background, which includes dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada.
“I represent the beautiful multiculturalism of America,” she said. “… My ethnic background is black, white and (Aboriginal Canadian) – all of which I am extremely proud of. However, I choose to identify as African-American, and I embrace my heritage.”
Boone also shared her views on multiculturalism, saying it plays a key role in today’s society.
“… It allows us to break down many barriers between different ethnic groups,” she said. “In America, each and every day, we are able to connect with many different individuals from all around the world and have the opportunity to learn about their backgrounds as well as experience their culture.”
Boone concluded her remarks by honoring King, whose birthday will be observed nationally on Monday.
“The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America,” she said. “And because of him and his movement, we are able to come together today as a nation and community, no matter what our skin color is.
“At the end of the day, all I want is for everyone in our nation to feel loved and accepted equally, regardless of their race, gender, nationality and ethnic group.”
PCC Marketing Director Jane Power, a Multicultural Activities Committee member, said Boone’s positive attitude, tenacity and passion impressed the MAC scholarship committee. She explained that when the committee began discussing criteria for a scholarship four years ago, members wanted it awarded to students with a unique perspective on the importance of multiculturalism and acceptance.
“Through the scholarship review process, we have come to the conclusion that there are so many varied perspectives of acceptance and the need for greater understanding of others,” Power said. “And it is very fitting that we award this scholarship at (the MLK Tribute Breakfast).”
This year’s tribute took place in the Craig F. Goess Student Center’s J. Paul and Diana S. Davenport Multipurpose Room and featured Judge James A. Wynn Jr., a member of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, serving as keynote speaker.
“… We’ve come together not only to celebrate the life of Dr. King but to take stock in what we have accomplished by working together in the spirit of togetherness for everything that he stood for,” said Wynn, a Robersonville native who served as a PCC Trustee from 1989 to 1993. “We have done this not by pointing fingers, not by assessing blame, not by holding on to resentment [but] by embracing commitment to better ourselves – bettering ourselves not just as African-Americans, or Latinos, or as Asians or as white Americans but simply as Americans.”
PCC President G. Dennis Massey welcomed a capacity crowd to this year’s MLK program and told those in attendance that King would be pleased with the diversity of Pitt’s student body.
“I’m proud to inform all of you that this fall term … our enrollment in the credit programs here of almost 8,500 students was 44 percent black, Hispanic and underrepresented student (populations),” Massey said. “I think that’s a testimony to our commitment to the mission that Dr. King has set for all of us.”
PCC’s first MLK Tribute Breakfast was held in 2013 and featured remarks from Rev. Sydney Locks, former pastor of Greenville’s Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church and a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to which King once belonged. Money raised through that event funded the first MAC Scholarship, which was awarded to Myanmar (formerly Burma) native Tutaw in 2014.
Students Alex Robol and Alyssa Comer received scholarships in 2015, and Evie Kelley and Alexis Baker were last year’s recipients.