I was honored to stand before a room of hundreds of early risers, of all races, in Decatur, Alabama, at the Unity Breakfast for Martin Luther King, Jr. and to be their keynote speaker for the 2011 celebration event.
Blacks and Whites sat and dined and talked together, naturally, as of they were family. And as if this was not inspiration enough, as young African-American men and women stood up to receive their scholarships, a bidding war broke out to find the individual $500.00 scholarships required to make sure the remaining 21 young people, not yet selected for funding, received scholarships too.
As major companies, represented mostly by leaders who happened to be Caucasian, stepped forward to make commitments in this regard, to my inspired surprise, Black owners of mostly small businesses in Decatur began to stand up, come to the microphone and ultimately to not only match but to exceed the initial set of new commitments. Inspiring stuff.
I got so inspired that I announced my own $500.00 scholarship commitment from my modestly sized Bryant Foundation, which I committed to make every year they hold this event going forward, and organizers decided to turn into an official John Hope Bryant Scholarship. Honored to be associated with leaders representing the Decatur County Minority Development Association.
At the end of event I was happy to sign copies of my book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) for attendees, and particularly this hopeful young business leader of the future, 10 year-old Branden Dunbar.
Humbly I say, I believe that Dr. King would be proud about what is going on today in Decatur, Alabama. I know I was. A special thank you to my mentor and personal hero, and the senior aide to Dr. King in the civil rights movement, Ambassador Andrew Young, for making sure I was "in the spirit" when I arrived Monday morning.
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