MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The West Virginia University (WVU) Mountainlair Ballrooms were filled for the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast Monday.

Interim Director of the Center for Black Culture, Javier McCoy, says we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, and many continue to fight for their own dreams today.

“We are 60 years from August, from the “I Have a Dream” speech, and I think this references what that dream continues to mean to you, what you are fighting for, and how we are doing that together in unity and camaraderie with one another,” McCoy said.

The event happened to land on the birthday of the famed civil rights leader, January 15, prompting WVU President Gordon Gee to reflect on the state of the world today and the lack of discourse in society.

“Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 95 years old today,” Gee said. “In many ways, I think his influence is even more important today because of the lack of civility and respect we have in this nation.”

Janelle Labarbera, Stephanie Sarfo, Maya Wetherbee, Taya Sullivan, Bryan Hill, Sierra Worden, and Kamille Moore were each awarded a $1,500 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship. Moore is a junior from Beckley majoring in social work with minors in sociology. women and gender studies and communications.

“I want to be a social worker at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, and I definitely want to be a patient advocate,” Moore said. “Black women go through a lot, and a lot of minorities are overlooked, and I want to make a change in that.”

Anitra Hamilton, D. Monongalia, 81, was the recipient of the 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Award. In 2015, that award went to local community leader Don Spencer, who protested with Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C., back in the 1960s.

“So, I’ve always had a personal dimension in my relation to this day, for which I have been very grateful,” Spencer said.

Chairman of the Monongalia County Democratic Party Executive Committee, Cal Carlson, said the message of unity and equality is a good one as we prepare for primary election season. Carlson said voters should look for and support candidates who seek to serve all and not just a few.

“People who are going to embrace change for everybody, not just a select few in our community, because that is the only way forward in our state and in our nation right now,” Carlson said.