2009 Unity Breakfast
In commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
UW Tacoma and the Black Student Union at UW Tacoma present
Monday, January 19, 2009
8 - 10 a.m.
UW Tacoma campus — William W. Phillip Hall
Jacob Bellamy and Praise Team
Opening by Mistress of Ceremony
Sharon Parker, Assistant Chancellor for Equity & Diversity
Patricia Spakes, Chancellor, UW Tacoma
Bryan Neal, President, UWT Black Student Union (BSU)
"Lift Every Voice and Sing," the National Negro Anthem
performed by Jacob Bellamy and Praise Team, BSU,
Young Men of Distinction, audience
Sankofa: From King to Obama Civil Rights Video Montage
Spoken Word Oration
Recognition of Tacoma Civil Rights Leaders
Lisa Rankin, Advisor, BSU at UW Tacoma
Krumping Dance Performance
The Brick City Dancers
Introduction of Alumni Speaker
JeLisa Marshall, Vice President, UWT Black Student Union
Jonathan Clark, UW Tacoma Class of 1993
Jacob Bellamy and Praise Team
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Trista Huckleberry, UW Tacoma Faculty Member
Doris McEwen, Distinguished Educator, UW School of Education
Ella Capers broke through racial barriers over 50 years ago to become the first Black office woman to be hired at Sears in downtown Tacoma in the early 1960s. After graduating from a local business college, she applied for a stenography job at Sears. She was made to take a battery of tests when applying for a stenography job because of the color of her skin. Sears gave her timed tests from 8 a.m. to noon, followed by more tests from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Then she was asked to take a letter, and then to take another letter for a manager farther up the managerial chain. Finally, at the end of the day, she was offered a job. “Not one person in that office ever had to take a test,” Capers said. Her hiring was such a phenomenon that people came to watch her work through the window. At first the other women in the office turned their backs to her while they worked, but eventually she earned their respect. Capers retired from Sears after working there 24 years.
Thomas Dixon, born in Sparta, Georgia, on March 28, 1931, was the founding director of the Tacoma Urban League and one of Tacoma’s civil rights leaders during the 1960s and 1970s. Dixon became Executive Director when the Tacoma Urban League received its national charter in 1968. As the new director, he led a black advocacy group urging the conservative City Council to accept a Model Cities grant directed to the Hilltop. When racial violence erupted in Tacoma in 1969, in what would popularly be known as the Mother’s Day Disturbance, Dixon was among the African American leaders who helped quell violence and win concessions from the city. Within a few years, the Tacoma Urban League ran wide-ranging programs in job training and employment, education, community and economic development, and social and health services. In 1976 the Tacoma Urban League dedicated a new building, the first local affiliate in the nation to build and own its own building. Dixon led the organization until 2000, when he was named President Emeritus. Since 1969, Mr. Dixon also consistently has served as an officer and active member of Tacoma’s Black Collective, a group that meets every Saturday morning to address education, employment and other issues and programs affecting the local Black community.