Galesburg’s held annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast was held at the First Lutheran Church in Galesburg Monday morning. NAACP committee member Maury Lyons introduced speakers which included opening remarks by 17th District Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. Essay contest winners then took to the stage. Local 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from Lombard, Churchill, and Costa submit essays yearly as part of the event. The essay theme this year was Thurgood Marshall – with 2017 being the 50th Anniversary of him being selected to the Supreme Court – the nation’s first African-American justice. This year’s essay winner was Alaina Dunn of Galesburg. “Thurgood Marshall was born to be in the Supreme Court and he was born to make a difference in the world,” Dunn read. “Every morning we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The words: with liberty and justice for all mean more than anyone can comprehend. The next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, think about all the people that made those words true. Think about the people that redefine what it means to be an American.” Featured speaker during the breakfast was Tony Franklin. Franklin works as Associate Director of Field Operations for University of Illinois Extension. From 1995 to 2001, he was the Associate Dean of Students at Knox College. In November, Franklin was awarded the 2017 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award on Leadership in Diversity from the Office of the Chancellor at U of I. The award honors exceptional dedication to and success in promoting diversity and inclusion. Franklin addressed his rough upbringing in a racially-charged area of West Virginia, seeking opportunity, admitting your own biases, and living without a chip on your shoulder. “We need to learn to love the hate out of people,” Franklin said. “When you’re asked to love someone you don’t like, that’s a test to whether you know how to love or not. Who is our neighbor? Does everyone look like you? No. Does everyone think like you? No. …And that’s where it has to start: within yourself. Our neighbors are Muslims. They are the poor. The ones that may not have the same amount as wealth as us. …And even the homeless people on the street. If we don’t see them as our neighbors and the people we’re supposed to have compassion for – we are missing the mark.” All proceeds from the King Day Breakfast go towards scholarships for local students.