CORTLAND, N.Y. – About 75 people attended the annual Soup and Bread luncheon in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the YWCA of Cortland Monday.
The event, which was open to the public, featured remarks from James Felton, who was recently named the Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Cortland. The event was titled, “Moving from Rhetoric to Action: Exploring the Relationship between Equality, Equity, and Social Justice.”
Felton spoke about the importance of differentiating equality from equity, as well as Martin Luther King Jr.’s lesser known causes.
“Too often, we talk about the dream and the famous March on Washington, but we don’t talk about all of King’s legacy,” Felton said. “All the things he was fighting for—social justice, equality issues—he represented all people, not just African-Americans.”
The event was also a chance for community members to speak openly about issues of diversity, racism, and inequality in the Cortland community.
“We invited everyone here today to come up with solutions for how we can empower the entire community to start having conversations about race,” YWCA Executive Director Kelly Tobin said.
Lima Stafford, assistant director for SUNY Cortland’s Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, said MLK Day should serve as a reminder of the importance of taking action in tense political times.
“He always reminds us to not be silent about things,” Stafford said. “Nowadays, its really easy to be passive and not do much, and I love that he was someone that was very active.”