Hosted this year by the Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative, the fellowship breakfast was held one week after the national holiday -- when schools, government offices and many companies are closed -- so that more could participate in the annual tribute.
David Haglund (pictured), Pleasanton's superintendent of schools, and former Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, now deputy chief of staff to Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), offered inspiring messages about teaching and creating socially-responsible individuals and focusing on diversity to carry out the legacy of Dr. King.
"We've worked truly hard to carry out his legacy," Sbranti said. "Today in the Tri-Valley, we are rich in diversity. This region has welcomed diversity with open arms. We've welcomed everyone to our communities regardless of faith or creed to the fabric of our communities, culturally, economically and in other ways."
Looking out at the audience, Sbranti praised those at the breakfast in city government for helping to carry out Dr. King's legacy, especially those who are helping to provide affordable housing and better economic opportunities for all.
"Those of you involved in youth programs must know that Dr. King began his work in providing youths with opportunities," Sbranti added. "We see it in the faith community as well, where efforts to carry out his vision and call for social justice are underway."
In his remarks, Haglund urged everyone to become purveyors of hope and champions of change. He talked about how he began meeting students as he visited schools during his first week as Pleasanton's superintendent. He would chat with a lone student, become a friend, and then ask that student to show him around his school's campus and introduce him to others.
"Alone, we may struggle to connect with every student," Haglund explained. "But together, we can be purveyors of hope."
He asked everyone to take out one of their business cards and write the name of a young individual on the back of it, "one you know who is in need of some hope or a champion."
"Then think about the one thing you can start doing this week to bring hope or facilitate change that the young person you are thinking about needs the most," he added.
He quoted educator Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years and a frequent TED conference speaker: "Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be."
Haglund added: "We must facilitate ways for students to be their own best versions of themselves. To do that, we must connect with them in ways that are meaningful to them."
In closing, Haglund cited one of Dr. King's memorable quotes: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is 'What are you doing for others?'"
Along with the remarks by Haglund and Sbranti, the collaborative continued the tradition of recognizing community contributions with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy awards.
This year's recipients were Gary Reznick, director of East Bay Volleyball Academy in Pleasanton; Kathy Young and Mony Nop, founders of the Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance; and Pleasanton-based software company Workday.
The Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative organized this year's breakfast after the Tri-Valley YMCA decided not to host the event, which it had done for 17 years. Dr. King would have turned 89 years old Jan. 15. April marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination.