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PUSH Excel to host 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast

January 19, 2020




January 19, 2020


PUSH Excel to host 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast


Chicago, IL: Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Rainbow PUSH Coalition board members and PUSH for Excellence (PUSH Excel) will host the 30th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship breakfast 8 a.m.-12 noon, Monday, January 20, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel, Grand Ballroom, 151 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, that will focus on four social justice issues.


A 7:30 a.m. press conference will be held in the Columbus Room.


Having commemorated Dr. King’s legacy each year on the national holiday, Rev. Janette Wilson, national executive director of PUSH for Excellence, said they have hosted the Dr. King breakfast annually since the civil rights icon’s birthday became a national holiday. “This year our breakfast will highlight four key aspects of Dr. King’s legacy—educational equity, poverty and criminal justice reform and voting rights.


This year’s theme is “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Educational Equity and Economic Investment.”


In the spirit of Dr. King and in memory of his last birthday he spent working on the “Poor Peoples” campaign with a multi-cultural, multi-religious group of supporters, Rev. Jackson will highlight the Pembroke Township initiative where he is fighting for the installation of a natural gas line into that poor, mostly African American community.


Rev. Jackson and staff will also talk about their drive for educational equity including the elimination of student loan debts that are financially crippling students and their parents. “Rev. Jackson remains one of Dr. King’s staff members who is Implementing programs that were a central focus of Dr. King’s work,” said Rev. Wilson.


“The Pembroke project seeks to create an urban/rural model that Rev. Jackson calls, “Cup and Lip.” “The Project calls for Pembroke to become a major vegetable and meat supplier for Chicago restaurants, grocery stores, and governmental agencies including schools and jails.”


“Pembroke was once an Underground Railroad where former slaves left plantations in the South and built a community equal in size to Chicago just 70 miles away,” Rev. Wilson said.


The PUSH jail-to-jobs program seeks to reduce recidivism and limit the number of pre-trial detainees charged with non-violent crimes who are unable to make bail. “The jail-to-jobs program will provide job training and job placement,” Rev. Wilson explained.


And, in keeping with Dr. King’s passion for higher learning, Rev. Jackson and staff will celebrate students who have achieved excellence in STEAM, performing arts, oratory and organizations that provide mentoring and counseling to students who live on the margins.


The keynote speaker will be Rabbi Samuel N. Gordon, who heads the progressive Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette, Illinois for more than 25-years. Known for his diversity and community-mindedness, President Barack Obama appointed Rabbi Gordon to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C.


The PUSH Excel awardees are: Rodrick Dixon, Broadway Tenor performer, (PUSH Excel Creativity & Performing Arts Award), Ms. Phumzile Mazibuko, Consul General of South Africa (PUSH Excel Presidential Award), Audrena Spence, executive director, Metropolitan Family Services, (PUSH Excel Visionary Service Award), Kelly Fair, founder of the Polished Pebbles, (PUSH Excel Youth Mentoring Award) and Dream Hustle Code Team (PUSH Excel STEM Award).


Several skilled PUSH Excel orators will perform a medley of excerpts entitled: "What Would Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Say if he Were Present and Alive Today," by Mr. Orlando Ceaser. 


The orators are: Leilani Jenkins, 12, 4th grade, and her sister Faith, Jenkins, 8, are home schooled students. Other are:  Nelson and twin brother, Rutherford Simmons, III, 12, who are twins in the 7th grade at the Southwest Chicago Christian School, Carleigh Lewis, Christianna Haley Gray, 8, 4th grade, South Holland Elementary School and Essence Gaitheright, 15, a junior at the Lindblom Math & Science Academy.


Some of the performers include Rodrick Dixon, a classical crossover artist who possesses a tenor voice of extraordinary range and versatility. His singing spans 25 years of television, recordings, concerts and live theater including appearing in “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah.” Also performing are the Hiplet Ballerinas.


WVON radio will provide live coverage.



Media Contacts:
Chinta Strausberg
Alanna Ford


Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.

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