News Releases

Jan 18, 2016

Former Governor Deval Patrick reflects on the true American dream at the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast


Minneapolis (January 18, 2016) – Today, former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, urged a sold-out audience at this morning’s 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast to reflect on the parallels between the American dream and Dr. King’s legacy.

In his remarks, Gov. Patrick reinforced Dr. King’s dream and ideals as ones deeply rooted in the American dream.

“This is the only nation in human history organized around a set of transcendent civic values. We have defined those values over time and through struggle as freedom, equality, opportunities and fair play,” Gov. Patrick said. “These are the values that have made America the envy of the world. Rooted in these values is America’s greatest gift – a reason to hope.”

Gov. Patrick went on to applaud the progress that Dr. King’s works represent in the evolution of these civic values, but urged the patriots of Dr. King’s legacy to question just how far we have yet to go.

“In that same spirit, I want to suggest to you that true patriots ought also to be a little uneasy this morning. For just as Dr. King challenged us to reconcile Jim Crow with the national civic values of freedom, equality, opportunity and fair play, surely the times we live in now, challenge us all over again,” he said.

Looking back on the events and headlines of the last year, Gov. Patrick called not for unrest in the streets, but unrest in the hearts and minds of the American people. His hope is that this uneasiness will drive Americans to reach higher, ask the hard questions and act big to drive change.

“I want us to be uneasy because if enough of us feel uneasy, we might begin to feel some urgency about finding solutions to the things that make us so.”

In closing, Gov. Patrick left the audience with one question:

“I challenge you to be so uneasy that that you are compelled – as a true American patriot – to ask Who but you should act?

Having grown up on the south side of Chicago, Gov. Patrick described his upbringing of one with “limited means, but limitless hope.” He moved to Massachusetts during grade school attending Milton Academy on a scholarship. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Law School – the first in his family to attend college – Gov. Patrick clerked for a federal judge and later had a successful career in law and business. In 1994, former President Bill Clinton appointed him as assistant attorney general for civil rights, the nation’s top civil rights job.

Gov. Patrick served two terms as governor of Massachusetts. Despite a challenging economic environment, he maintained a disciplined growth strategy of investment in education, innovation and infrastructure, while delivering timely balanced budgets. Gov. Patrick funded education at the highest levels in the history of the Commonwealth, achieved nation-leading student performance and earned the state the top spot in the National Race to the Top competition. His landmark 10-year, $1 billion program to promote the state’s life sciences industry has positioned Massachusetts as a global leader in biotech, bio pharmaceuticals and digital technology and a national leader in clean and alternative energy.

The 2016 Holiday Breakfast also highlighted two Lifetime Local Legends who embody Dr. King’s legacy for justice and equality – U.S. District Judge Michael Davis and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.

“Together these men have devoted more than 65 years of combined service throughout the judicial system. Throughout their careers, they have personified the meaning of Dr. King’s words: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’” said Kim Nelson, senior vice president of General Mills External Relations and president of the General Mills Foundation in presenting the awards.

In tandem with Gov. Patrick’s call to act big, General Mills has convened the Corporate Community Service Coalition for the second year to help support those in need throughout the Twin Cities. The Coalition consists of hundreds of employees from 15 Minnesota Fortune 500 companies who are coming together to volunteer on MLK Day and throughout the week at food banks, homeless shelters, meals programs, community centers and more.

Supported by HandsOn Twin Cities, participating companies of the Coalition include: 3M, Accenture, Ameriprise, Aveda, Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cargill, Ecolab, General Mills, Land O’ Lakes, Medtronic, Mortenson Construction, Target, U.S. Bank and United Health Group.

For those inspired to take action, visit to explore volunteer opportunities.

The breakfast was broadcast live on Twin Cities PBS and will be rebroadcast on the statewide Minnesota channel during the remainder of January and early February. It is also available online at

Learn more about the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast by visiting


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 has grown so large that it reaches capacity seating at the Minneapolis Convention Center as one of the largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday breakfasts in the nation. Past speakers have included Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Rev. Joseph Lowery, the late Yolanda King, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Marian Wright Edelman, Donna Brazile and Vernon Jordan.


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 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 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. In its nearly 70-year history, the UNCF has raised more than $4.5 billion to help more than 400,000 students. 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 is to nourish communities.  Continuing its tradition of generous giving and global community support, General Mills contributed more than $150 million to charitable causes in fiscal year 2015. General Mills invests in and collaborates with community organizations and programs that focus on alleviating hunger, advancing nutrition wellness and improving education.  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