Lisa Hicks-Thomas to keynote 29th Hampton Roads Urban League’s Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast

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By Rosalind Tyler

Associate Editor

New Journal and Guide


   Several sponsors will help host the annual Hampton Roads Urban League Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast on Jan. 21.

  Tidewater Community College has taken the lead in planning the annual event with several partners including Eastern Virginia Medical School, and Old Dominion, Norfolk State and Regent University.

The 29th annual breakfast will be held at the Norfolk Sheraton Waterside at 7:30 a.m. Tickets for the signature event are still only $30.

“People should come because it is an opportunity to demonstrate a personal commitment to supporting the legacy of Dr. King,” said Edith White who heads the HRUL. “It’s a way to give back to the community. It’s a community wide celebration.”

The keynote speaker is Lisa Hicks-Thomas, secretary of administration for the Commonwealth of Virginia. A Chesapeake native and former Chesapeake prosecuting attorney and deputy attorney general, she was appointed to her current post by Gov. Bob McDonnell. She received her law degree at William and Mary in 1994.

   In her current post, Hicks-Thomas oversees a number of state agencies, including the Department of General Services, the State Board of Elections, the Department of Minority Business Enterprise and the Department of Human Resource Management. She is married to Portsmouth native Samuel Thomas. They have two children.

At least 600 people are expected at this year’s breakfast. Live the Dream was selected as the 2013 theme for several reasons.

“It’s important that we embody the life of Dr. King,” White explained. “So this year’s theme was adopted as an act of encouragement. It is also an opportunity for everyone to get involved and to contribute.”

   The breakfast will be held on the same day as the 2013 Inauguration for President Barack Obama, which is also the day the nation celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin L. King Jr. In addition to the swearing-in ceremony, inaugural address, parade and 11 official balls, there will be many unofficial balls, parties and more.

According to the official Inauguration site, run by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the 2009 ceremonies drew the largest attendance of any event in the history in the nation’s capital.

The recent second-term election of President Barack Obama is even more of a reason to attend, White said.

   Racial disparities may still exist and the struggle for equality may continue, she explained. But anyone can help to find solutions to these challenges by attending

“Of course the presidential election is history and monumental,” White continued. “But it doesn’t signal that the struggle for equality is over. There are still several disparities we have to work to address. But the struggle is not over.

“Our commitment to implementing the various programs that will improve people’s lives is even stronger,” White said.

   The honorary chair is Martee Pierson, director of diversity programs at Liberty Tax Service and the executive director of the Una Familia Sin Fronteras Foundation. Last April in Portsmouth, Pierson received the Urban League’s 2011 Marian Palmer Capps Award at its annual Whitney Young Jr. dinner.

The Capps Award recognizes an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the Hampton Roads community through the promotion of educational initiatives that support inter-racial understanding and cooperation.

To purchase tickets, please phone (757) 627-0864 or please email Lessie Bower-Wharton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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