News Releases

Jan 09, 2017

Civil rights activist, author Myrlie Evers-Williams to be keynote Speaker at MLK Holiday Breakfast


Monday, January 16, at Minneapolis Convention Center

Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights leader, author and wife of murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers, will give the keynote speech at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast on Monday, January 16, 2017, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

This is the 27th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast, which is organized in partnership by the General Mills Foundation and United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The annual breakfast is an opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of service and inspire us to live out his dream in our homes, the community and throughout the world. This year’s theme is based on his words: “The time is always right to do what is right.” Ms. Evers-Williams will provide powerful messages on that theme.

Tickets for the breakfast are now available at As in the past, the breakfast will also be broadcast live on Twin Cities Public Television at 8:00 a.m. CST.

For the first time, this year’s breakfast will be an official fundraiser benefiting the local chapter of the UNCF and we are excited to have major sponsors Medtronic and Target join us this year. Proceeds will help provide four-year scholarships for deserving low-income Minnesota students.

“We are grateful to have Ms. Evers-Williams share her life’s experiences as our keynote speaker,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer of UNCF, who will introduce her at the event. “Throughout her life, Ms. Evers-Williams has exemplified what it means to be a civil rights leader and a role model. After tragically losing her husband Medgar, she fought to bring his killer to justice and she continued his civil rights work with the NAACP. She is a great inspiration to all of us to never give up the fight for justice.”

In June 1963, Medgar Evers was shot to death in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi, by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. Two all-white juries could not reach a verdict in the case. Evers-Williams helped keep the case alive for nearly 30 years and De La Beckwith was eventually convicted of murder by a multi-racial jury in 1994.

Evers-Williams had moved her family to Los Angeles after the murder and became a civil rights activist. In 1967 she wrote “For Us the Living,” about her late husband’s life and work. In 1976 she married Walter Williams, a labor and civil rights activist. She later served on the Los Angeles Board of Public Works and the board of the NAACP. She was elected chair of the board of the NAACP in 1995 and served until 1998. She helped stabilize the organization and refurbish its image after a difficult period. She was named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine.

In 1998 she founded the Medgar Evers Institute to preserve and advance her husband’s legacy. It was later renamed the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute with a mission of championing civil rights with a focus on history, education, and reconciliation, especially among young people. She serves as chairman of the Jackson, Mississippi-based organization.

In 1999, Evers-Williams published “Watch Me Fly: What I learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I was Meant to Be.” She later served as editor of “The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero’s Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters and Speeches,” published in 2005.

For the third year, the Corporate Community Service Coalition will be an important part of the breakfast. As part of the Coalition, hundreds of employees from 14 Minnesota companies are coming together to volunteer on MLK Day and throughout the week at food banks, homeless shelters, meals programs, community centers and more.

The Coalition is supported by HandsOn Twin Cities and participating companies include: 3M, Accenture, Best Buy, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cargill, Faegre Baker Daniels, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Medtronic, Mortenson, Minnesota State Government, Target, Thrivent and U.S.  Bank.

Entertainment at the breakfast will be provided by Vocal Essence featuring Melanie DeMore.

Finally, for members of the community who cannot attend the breakfast in person, the St. Paul Area Council of Churches will host free community breakfasts across the metro area and in Duluth and River Falls, Wis., to watch the live program on television. Visit to find a community breakfast near you.

About the 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 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 former Secretary of State 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, Vernon Jordan and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."® For more than seven decades the UNCF has raised more than $4.5 billion to help more than 430,000 students, not just to attend college, but to thrive, graduate and become leaders. It does that in three ways: By awarding more than 10,000 students more than $100 million in scholarships each year. By providing financial support to 37 historically black colleges and universities. And by serving as the nation’s leading advocate for the importance of minority education and community engagement. The impact has been powerful. Since its founding in 1944, the UNCF has more than doubled the number of minorities attending college. The six-year graduation rate for UNCF scholarship recipients is 70 percent, which is 11 percentage points higher than the national average and 31 percentage points higher than the national average for African Americans. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. More on UNCF. 

About the General Mills Foundation
The mission of the General Mills Foundation is to nourish communities globally.  Continuing its tradition of generous giving and global community support, General Mills contributed $27 million to charitable causes in fiscal year 2016.  General Mills invests in and collaborates with community organizations and programs that focus on increasing food security, advancing sustainable agriculture and strengthening hometown communities.  In addition, 83 percent of U.S. employees volunteer.  To learn more about the ways General Mills nourishes lives through philanthropy and community engagement, join us at or visit us here.


Doug Stone 651-336-9907


Kelsey Roemhildt
General Mills