The 36th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast featured awards, videos by the morning's youth essay contest winners reciting their work; and songs from the McCaskey High School Voices of Freedom choir.
Alicia Blanco, 17, a senior at Manheim Township High School, performed a piece that interwove singing and speaking.
"Tomorrow the fears and sorrows of yesterday's people will be turned into the activism and justice of today," she said, creating a community that embraces "diversity, unity sanctity and democracy." Alluding to her youth, she said: "I think 17 just means I have the rest of my life to be the change I want to see."
The event's award presentations were as follows:
Youth Essay Contest Winners
- Arlo Sampaio, Fulton Elementary School
- Adam Rodriguez Schuetrumpf, Reynolds Middle School
- Delaney Landis, Hempfield High School
Essence of Humanity Awards
• Leroy Hopkins: Hopkins, a retired Millersville University German professor, researches and publicizes local history, particularly Black history. He was a member of the Black History Advisory Committee at the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and president of the African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania.
• Gerald Wilson: A retired city police officer and criminal justice teacher at McCaskey High School, Wilson helped open a drug rehabilitation center in the 1980s and led a police unit that targeted drug crime. He helped start the first Crispus Attucks Community Center benefit pancake breakfast.
Ruby Payne Cook Award
• Magisterial District Judge Jodie Richardson: Richardson is a lifetime resident of Lancaster's Southeast. She is board chair of SACA Development Corp. a board member of Advoz and a member of Millersville University's President's Commission on Cultural Diversity & Inclusion.
• State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El: Elected in 2022, Smith-Wade-El previously served as City Council president and was vice chair of the Lancaster County Democratic Committee.
Attucks Legacy Award
• 'Brother' Frank Albright: Albright is student support coordinator at McCaskey High School, where he teaches study skills, life skills, conflict mediation and peacemaking. He started McCaskey's REACH Club and a peer mediation program and visited students' homes daily during the pandemic to help them stay on track to graduate. "My highest mission in life is to help all people feel valued and loved," he says. In June 2023, he was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive disease of the nervous system.