published Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Speaker at Cleveland, Tenn. M.L. King event urges 'lead the change'

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    Staff Photo by Randall Higgins Natalia Williams, diversity student programs at Cleveland State Community College, and Lawrence Armstrong, center, president of the Bradley County NAACP, present Ronald Harris, corporate diversity official at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, an appreciation plaque as the keynote speaker Saturday for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Today's generations have a responsibility to bring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream into reality, Ronald Harris said to those attending the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast here Saturday.

Harris is corporate diversity official for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The breakfast was delayed because of January snow.

"The celebration, during Black History Month, lends itself to a very rich and vivid duality,'' Harris said. "We can reflect on Dr. King's legacy in a historical, retrospective manner, but we must move forward in an introspective and optimistic manner. In other words, we don't have the luxury of waiting on another Martin Luther King.''

This generation must follow the celebration's slogan, "Dream the change, lead the change, be the change,'' Harris said.

Students are studying for jobs that don't exist yet, Harris said, and to use technology that doesn't yet exist to solve problems as yet unknown.

"Young children don't just sit side by side in the classroom. They are lifelong friends,'' he said.


The 2011 Scholarship and Mentoring Banquet, organized by 100 Black Men and held at Lee University, is set for 6:30 p.m. March 5. Tickets are $65. For information or to buy a table, call Dr. Michael Laney at 423-790-4294 or Jonathan Porter at 423-596-0740.

Change is happening at a fast past, he said.

"We have to move from memorializing the dream. ... The dream has to be realized, and it has to be personalized,'' Harris said.

Harris was introduced by Lawrence Armstrong , president of the Bradley County NAACP.

"An important point is Mr. Harris has been here in Cleveland at least five times the past eight months speaking on this particular topic,'' Armstrong said.

The breakfast follows an event Thursday, sponsored by 100 Black Men of Bradley County and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, where local students were honored for academic success. The Dream Keeper Awards began in 1994.

Contact Randall Higgins at or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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