A ballroom at West Virginia University packed with a cross-section of students, administrators and community leaders was encouraged Monday (Jan. 18) to work together to achieve Martin Luther King’s dream.

“Today the struggle for justice is alive but we’ve proven that together we can make a difference,” keynote speaker Charles Emanuel, an Orlando, Florida, attorney, told several hundred people gathered for the annual Unity Breakfast sponsored by the University’s Center for Black Culture and Research. “We have the obligation to carry on the work of Dr. King and other great leaders. Dr. King is counting on us to keep dreaming. He’s counting on us to keep the legacy alive.”

The breakfast also served as the kickoff for the year-long 12 BIG! Days of Service Campaign. Following the breakfast, students left the Mountainlair to join service projects in Charleston, Fairmont and Morgantown. Some 200 students participated in the projects along with a dozen community partners.

Emanuel, a WVU graduate and member of the WVU Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, was named one of the top 100 black attorneys in America by the National Black Lawyers Top 100.

A student and staff member were also honored at the breakfast for their dedication to the principles King advocated.

Jihad D. Dixon, a junior at WVU, received the annual MLK Scholarship Award. Dixon is an Academic S.T.A.R.S. Scholar pursuing a bachelor of arts in political science with a minor in leadership studies.

The MLK Scholarship is awarded annually to an undergraduate student who demonstrates an active interest and meaningful involvement in the areas of human rights, civil rights, social justice and world peace.

Dixon is president of the WVU Collegiate Chapter of the National Advancement of Colored People and executive director for the WVU Student Government Association. Additionally, he is a student diversity ambassador for the WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and a committee member for the WVU University Student Rights and Responsibilities Committee.

“When I came here my freshman year, I went to the Center for Black Culture and Research and received lots of support,” Dixon said. “Since then, I’ve really grown as a student leader.”

Dixon also serves on the WVU Housing and Residence Life Student Conduct Board as the Dadisman/Stalnaker Hall residential assistant advisor, the #RespectfulMountaineer Campaign leadership team as the social media strategist and as a committee member of the WVU Student Renters Alliance.

During the summer of 2014, Dixon was sworn in as an AmeriCorps member, and continues to serve as a mentor for Energy Express.

Dixon plans to continue his education and eventually earn a doctorate. Eventually, he would like to start a non-profit organization helping first-generation, college-bound students, who come from single-parent homes.

Jacqueline Dooley, program coordinator of the WVU Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, received the MLK Achievement Award, awarded to a West Virginia resident who exemplifies someone who is working to fulfill King’s commitment.

Dooley, a native of Fairmont, who has dedicated her life to service scholarship and social justice, has been a dedicated leader at WVU for almost 25 years.

She is administrative director for the African American Arts and Heritage Academy and leads many social and community events for WVU African American students.

In 2010, she inspired creation of The Rack, a WVU student food bank, to ensure students without enough financial support do not go hungry. The Rack has become a model to schools across the country such as Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Virginia Tech.



CONTACT: Marjorie Fuller; Center for Black Culture and Research
304.293.7029; Marjorie.Fuller@mail.wvu.edu

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.