The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast will be held at Somerset Community College on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.
Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, will be the guest speaker at the event.
According to the Little Rock Nine Foundation, LaNier was only 14 years old when she volunteered to be part of the first group of teens to integrate Central High School.
"This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational system," the foundation website said. " By ushering in a new order, she and her fellow warriors became ‘foot soldiers’ for freedom."
The foundation website states that LaNier was inspired both by the civil rights activist Rosa Parks and by her desire to obtain the best education possible. LaNier and the other Little Rock Nine members were spat on by white students, threatened and endured hardships that caused President Dwight D. Eisenhower to dispatch the Army's 101st Airborne Division to protect their constitutional rights.
LaNier graduated from Central High School in 1960, attended Michigan State University and then graduated from Colorado State College, now the University of Northern Colorado, on whose board of trustees she sits.
In addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal, LaNier is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Northern Colorado and an inductee in the Colorado Woman’s Hall of Fame and the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. In 1999 at the White House, members of Congress and the President bestowed upon LaNier and the other member of the Little Rock Nine the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, for their sacrifice and contribution to the cause of equality.
LaNier worked as a program administrator for the YWCA and then pursued a successful career as a real estate broker for more than 30 years. She currently operates her own real estate brokerage firm, LaNier and Company, with her son Whitney. In addition to her son, she and husband Ira have an adult daughter, Brooke. LaNier resides in Englewood, Colorado.
In 2009, LaNier completed her first book, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School, a biography with forward by President Bill Clinton. According to the foundation, the book "offers an inside look at the most famous school integration in American history, and the courage and faith required to survive it all."
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity breakfast is sponsored by the City of Somerset and the Kentucky Humanities Council. The event will be held in the Citizens National Bank Community Room in the Harold Rogers Student Commons, located on the SCC Somerset North Campus at 808 Monticello Street, Somerset.
The event is free and open to the public. Due to space, reservations are requested by calling Elaine Wilson, director of diversity at SCC, at 606-451-6915 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, January 19, Somerset Community College (SCC) will host the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Program at First Baptist Church, located at 128 North Main Street in Somerset. The Reverend Charles B. Cotton Sr. will be the featured speaker at the event. The program is free and open to the public.
About Reverend Charles B. Cotton Sr.
Rev. Charles B. Cotton Sr. is the founder and senior pastor of Faith Walk Fellowship Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He was ordained in 1989 and comes from a long line of ministers, beginning with his great grandfather, Rev. Ben Cotton, a preacher in the early 1800’s. The three priorities of his ministry are to “Exalt the Savior, Equip the Saints and Evangelize the World,” (Matthew 28: 18-20).
Prior to founding Faith Walk Fellowship Church, Rev. Cotton served for nine years as Senior Pastor of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, and twelve years as Assistant Pastor of Mount Oliver Missionary Baptist in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rev. Cotton has preached and ministered in the West African countries of Nigeria, Freetown in Sierra Leone, Accra in Ghana and in the East African cities of Mombasa and Nairobi, Kenya. Additionally, Rev. Cotton has served as a team member for the Cleveland Area Concerts of Prayer and is a licensed Walk Thru the Bible Instructor for the Old and New Testament.
Rev. Cotton was born in Hollandale, Mississippi. He is a member of the class of 1970 from Simmons High which integrated Hollandale High School as a part of the court order of 1964. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi (1973); Master of Arts degree from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio (1978); and performed graduate work in administration at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio (1997). He performed ecclesiastical studies at Progressive Institute of the Bible in Cleveland, Ohio (1985-1986) and Moody Evening School in Cleveland, Ohio (1987-1990). In 2004, he completed the Pastors of Excellence program through Ashland Theological Seminary.
Rev. Cotton also taught Industrial Arts and Technology Education in the Cleveland Municipal Schools for more than 30 years. He has received numerous accolades as a professional educator, which include TV8 Teacher of the Week, Rotary Club Teacher of the Year, Ameritech Teacher of the Year, Cleveland Indians Teacher of the Year and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers nominee.
Rev. Cotton has been married to Sharon Cotton for 33 years. The couple have two children, Charles Jr. and Channon.