Our Weekly: Capacity Crowd Attends YMCA’s 53rd Annual MLK Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast

Our Weekly: Capacity Crowd Attends YMCA’s 53rd Annual MLK Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast
(L-R Keynote Speaker Jim Hill, Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas and Atty. Paul J. Watford)

Crowd Acknowledges Allyson Felix’s Receipt of Human Dignity Award” As Well As Past Award Recipients

By Brett D. Louie

Last Monday, January 19, 2024, 1,200 guests packed the Westin Bonaventure Hotel’s California ballroom for the 53rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Breakfast. The event, with a who’s who of sponsors and at least 20 area elected officials, was hosted by the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.

Wendy Greuel, chair of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, kicked-off the event and welcomed all participants. The former City Councilmember and City Controller spoke about the theme of “togetherness” and “helping others is the truest barometer of success,” particularly in the context of Dr. King’s legacy. 

Kristen Watson, the sideline reporter and host for the Los Angeles Dodgers, served as the host for the day’s festivities.

The two most popular speakers at the event were long-time CBS Sportscaster Jim Hill and Olympic Athlete Allyson Felix. 

Hill’s heartfelt remarks highlighted that being asked to provide the event’s keynote address was “one of the biggest honors I’ll ever receive.” Importantly, Hill added that “the youth of our country will get us across the finish line.” He amply quoted from Vince Lombardi, Hill’s coach when he played for the Green Bay Packers, as well as Mohammed Ali and President Barack Obama. Hill concluded his inspiring remarks by thanking the audience and said, “If you believe, you can achieve it.”

Nicol Whitman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, presented the Human Dignity Award, the event’s top award. Before announcing the winner, she highlighted Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolent protest and his passion for worker’s rights, referencing that racial equity equaled economic justice. During her remarks, Whitman asked past recipients of the YMCA’s Human Dignity Award to stand. This august group included 2013 recipient Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was a guest of Mee and John Semcken. All past recipients in attendance received a rousing applause. At this point, Whitman introduced the 2024 award recipient, Allyson Felix, five-time Olympian and co-founder of Saysh.

Following a standing ovation, Allyson Felix, a Los Angeles native, USC graduate and Olympic athlete, spoke eloquently about motherhood in professional sports and the need for “maternal protection.” Through her efforts, she has fostered a systemic change and created a worldwide movement focusing on these issues. Felix, who grew up in South Los Angeles and remains heavily involved with the YMCA there, concluded by saying, “community is the cornerstone of my success.” 

The event ended with the entire 1,200 in attendance singing, “We Shall Overcome.”

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This article was originally posted OurWeekly.