On January 19, I served as the keynote speaker for the 30th Annual Martin Luther King Jr./Albert Owens Scholarship Breakfast at Lincoln Middle School in Meriden, CT. My speech highlighted the great work and progress made from the dawn of the civil right movement to the present day. In citing the disproportionate incarceration rates of black men and the prevalence of significant health disparities affecting black children, women and men, I also emphasized that work needs to continue to achieve Dr. King’s vision.
For 30 years, the Martin Luther King Jr./Albert Owens Scholarship Fund has honored the memory of not only Martin Luther King Jr., but Meriden’s own Albert Owens, a civic and union leader, who served as the city’s first human rights director. The breakfast has raised over $100,000 for scholarships which help local students achieve their dreams of college degrees.
Meriden resident Rhudean S. Raye founded the Martin Luther King Jr./Albert Owens Scholarship Breakfast and has run it for the entirety of its existence. Ms. Raye attended college at the Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC, received her nurse’s training at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, and came to Meriden in the 1950s. While working as a nurse at the Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, she obtained her certification to become an elementary teacher. As one of Meriden’s first black teachers, she taught first and second grade at the Nathan Hale School for 32 years.