UMass Boston News

Black History Breakfast

Picture of Juanita Jones Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sponsored by the Multicultural Symposium Series and Commonwealth Compact




Keynote Speaker -  Juanita Jones Abernathy

Widow of Ralph David Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s chief partner in the Civil Rights movement

Picture of Juanita Jones Abernathy





Why Hearing The Message of Juanita Jones Abernathy SHOULD Matter To YOU:

Essential Reasons to Attend the February 2 Black History Breakfast                

by Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA, CDMP

As a 58-year-old Detroit native who grew up during the turbulent times of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, I need little coaxing to vote, to be proud of my race, to excel as an entrepreneur, or to serve my community. Because of their sacrifices, trailblazers like Juanita Jones Abernathy paved the way for me and countless others to live relatively comfortable lives. She and many others put their lives on the line to end the discrimination of black and brown people all over the United States.

And for her sacrifice and service to humanity, I won't stop until the February 2 Black History Breakfast is sold out with an army of corporate and organizational sponsors lined up to meet this great lady.

You ask why this matters to you? Why should you take time out of your busy schedule to attend? Because if you are a woman, an African American, a Hispanic, a Native American or an Asian American, your job or quality of life was enhanced by Juanita Abernathy and other champions of the Civil Rights movement.  

NO you did NOT get there all by yourself. You did not get there strictly because of your university degree. Or your skill sets. Or your contacts or your relationships. They definitely matter...but the road to opportunity was paved for you 50+ years ago by the sacrifices of those God-fearing warriors like Mrs. Abernathy who said NO to racism, NO to injustice, NO to gender bias, and NO to discrimination in America—the land of the free and the home of the brave.

They took their grievances to the streets, marched, boycotted, and nagged state and federal officials until necessary changes occurred to bring equality and justice to ALL Americans. In return they were beaten by the thousands, jailed, fired from their jobs and killed by the dozens so that YOU could live where you please and occupy that professional position you currently have.

And to show appreciation for those who came before us, that's why YOU should attend this breakfast. That's why YOUR company or organization should sponsor this breakfast. That's why this event matters so much to so many.

Juanita Abernathy is no longer a young woman. She is in advanced years but still has a sharp mind, a keen wit, and vivid memories of the 1950s and 1960s when America was at the crossroads of honoring the dignity of those very people who had helped to build this great nation.  

Her house was bombed. When was YOUR house bombed? Her husband was jailed 44 times in the struggle for freedom. When did YOU go to jail to free others????

Her husband, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, was one of the welcoming Alabama ministers who embraced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when King was chosen to become the leader of the Civil Rights movement in 1955. Dr. Abernathy was Dr. King's closest associate in the struggle for freedom. Both families had four children each. They vacationed together. Marched together. Prayed together. And orchestrated one of the most powerful non violent revolutions in human history.

Now YOU have a chance to meet this great woman who risked her own safety and the safety of her children so that YOU could be guaranteed a better station in life. Isn't that worth something???

Yes I know that I am taking a hard line in this commentary. Somebody has to do it. As an entrepreneur in a town that is not always supportive of black entrepreneurs, I have to speak out, while providing a unique opportunity to hold an event that should matter to everyone. The Civil Rights era freed ALL of us by providing a new course of action for ALL people.

I am not saying that we have arrived or that we have become post racial in the age of President Obama. No, I am not saying that at all. There is plenty of work left for us to do. Racial incidents persist, our economy languishes, and the unemployment rate is a frightening reminder that we all must do our part to strengthen our society. What I am saying is that your attendance or sponsorship of the February 2nd Black History Breakfast will demonstrate YOUR commitment and support of a pioneer civil rights leader who loved her country and her people enough to fight for the rights of others.

Yes Black History IS American History. This breakfast will salute Mrs. Abernathy and the countless others who paved the way for us to lead. It's worth putting on your calendar. It's worth taking time out of your busy schedule to attend, network, and say thank you. It's YOUR way of ensuring that the sacrifices of our ancestors were NOT in vain.

I am honored to recognize the following companies/organizations that have already stepped up to the plate as sponsors:

  • Commonwealth Compact (Co-sponsors of the event. Signed up on Day One when the event was announced on October 27th.)
  • The Lura Smith Fund
  • Amtrak
  • MBCR
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Walgreens

It's definitely not too late for your organization to sign on as a sponsor. Buy your ticket(s) today.

For complete details about the February2 Black History Breakfast visit

To become a sponsor, please contact Carole Copeland Thomas:
Phone: 508.947.5755 

Ticket Prices:

$50 --   Non Members
$25 --   Members of the Multicultural Symposium Series
$500 -- Table of Ten

For more information about the Multicultural Symposium Series and to sign up for membership, visit

For disability-related accommodations, including dietary accommodations, please visit two weeks prior to the event.