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Naomi Tutu inspires audience to reach for the beloved community as keynote speaker at 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast

Tutu brings global perspective to celebration of King's life and legacy

Today global human rights activist Naomi Tutu addressed a sold-out audience of nearly 2,000 at the 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“Who are we going to be in this world?” said Tutu. “Are we going to be those who use the gifts that we have to improve the lot of those less fortunate than we are? Or are we simply going to use the gifts we have to enrich and soften our own lives?”

Her experience growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa – and as the third child of Archbishop Desmond Tutu – uniquely positioned her to deliver remarks on this year’s breakfast’s theme: "Building Peace and Unity within the Global Community."

“We who say we believe in justice, we who say we believe in the dream, are called to be those whose lives, whose every actions, whose any action, speaks to our belief in that possibility,” she said. “We are those who believe that the beloved community is not some dream, but a goal.”

The event also included remarks from Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, area development director for UNCF (United Negro College Fund), who spoke about UNCF and King’s shared commitment to education.

Keeping with tradition, the breakfast was broadcast live on Twin Cities Public Television and will be rebroadcast on the statewide Minnesota channel several times in the coming days.

The 2012 breakfast included inspired musical performances from The Steeles, who performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” “This Little Light of Mine” and “Happy Birthday.” Students from Walker West Music Academy performed “I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free” by Nina Simone.

The breakfast also featured the presentation of the Local Legend and Emerging Legend community service awards. This year’s Emerging Legend winner is Peter Larson, a senior at Wayzata High School who has spent many cold, winter nights sleeping outside to raise awareness and more than $400,000 for homelessness programs. The Local Legend winners are VJ Smith, national president of MAD DADS and founder of its Minneapolis chapter; and Dr. Mary M. Tjosvold, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and owner of Mary T. Inc.

As in the past, the St. Paul Area Council of Churches hosted six simultaneous free breakfasts, which allowed participants to watch the event together as a community on television.

About the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast
The annual holiday breakfast began when UNCF and the General Mills Foundation joined together to host a community celebration to honor the legacy of Dr. King. What started with 800 guests in 1991 now has grown so large that it reaches capacity seating at the Minneapolis Convention Center as one of the largest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday breakfasts in the nation. Past speakers have included Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret), Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Rev. Joseph Lowery, the late Yolanda King and U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

During the breakfast, the audience was encouraged to commit to volunteer in the spirit of Dr. King and to take action in their communities by filling out a service commitment card. Commitment cards are also available online.

In Minneapolis, General Mills employees participated in a number of onsite and virtual volunteer opportunities today. Employees could virtually volunteer from their desks by visiting and viewing a video on the Join My Village program. General Mills will donate $1 to CARE, Inc. for every employee video view. Join My Village is an innovative, online social change initiative facilitated by the humanitarian organization CARE with financial support from General Mills and Merck that seeks to empower women and girls in the developing world.  Tutu is the ambassador of Join My Village.

Learn more about the 22nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast by visiting

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 38 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 21 percent of African-American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."® Learn more at

The mission of the General Mills Foundation, celebrating 57 years of giving, is to nourish communities. Continuing its tradition of generous giving and global community support, General Mills contributed nearly $120 million to charitable causes in fiscal year 2011—up 18 percent from the previous year. We invest in and collaborate with community organizations and programs that unleash the power of food across a spectrum of social issues, including hunger, nutrition and healthy active lifestyles. In addition, 83 percent of U.S. employees volunteer.  To learn more about the ways General Mills nourishes lives through philanthropy and community engagement, please join us on Facebook at or visit us at

For more information, contact:

Maerenn Jepsen
General Mills

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Distribution channels: Food & Beverage Industry

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