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HRC Celebrates the 47th Annual Unity Breakfast

Returning after postponing last year’s event. The 47th Annual Unity Breakfast, formerly known as the Mayor’s Unity Breakfast, came back stronger than ever. Human Rights Commission (HRC) announced the 2021 theme after Vice President Kamala Harris quote “Our Unity is Our Strength, and Our Diversity is Our Power” with Terrance Sullivan, J.D., Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Executive Director came back home to bring a message of hope, unity, and a reminder of the work we still have to do as a diverse community. In his speech he stated “we must work together and recognize a threat to any of us is a threat to all of us.”   Mr. Sullivan spoke to a sold-out event with over 560 in attendance from all sectors of our society and our sponsors the City of Hopkinsville, Christian County Government, HWEA, Riken Elastomers, and Chosen Legacy.

Each year five prestigious awards are presented to our community. We received 32 nominations from the public. This year’s award recipients are:

2021 Volunteer of the Year Award - Hopkinsville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for their endless hours and contributions to our community from offering mentorships, scholarships, public forums, along with community involvement supporting other organizations and agencies.

2021 The Standard Award for Excellence - This award acknowledges outstanding service and devotion that goes above and beyond the call of duty, recognizing an individual who sets a high STANDARD of excellence that has made our community better. This year’s recipient is Dr. Alissa Young, CEO, and President of HCC.

2021 The Unity Award is awarded to an individual or group in the Hopkinsville community who contributes to the spirit of unity. This award is presented by the Mayor of Hopkinsville Wendell Lynch. A new Unity Award has been added this year to include residents of Christian County (outside the Hopkinsville city limits) and will be presented by the Christian County Judge/Executive Steve Tribble.

The Mayor’s Unity Award was presented to Jennie Stuart Health and Salvation Army. The Judge’s Unity Award was presented to Christian County Health Department. The most deserving group is the public health workers, doctors, nurses, environmental specialists, lab technicians, caseworkers, shelter and food distribution volunteers, and administration team that worked long hours during this pandemic. This team suited up and served our community each day on the front lines.  Finding and learning ways to help protect our loved ones and our community. They sacrificed their time and their life to help save others. These three organizations wore compassion and devotion while serving the people of Hopkinsville Christian County. This is the reflection of true unity. 

HRC’s signature award is The Hal & Bettye Thurmond Award. The Thurmond’s committed their lives to improving race relations in Christian County in the 1950s and ’60s by integrating housing, lunch counters, and public schools. This work earned them a posthumous induction into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in the fall of 2006. Mr. Thurmond was the owner of Blue Lake Block Co. and president of the local Chamber of Commerce. He demonstrated his commitment to the civil rights movement by helping to establish the Human Rights Commission, for which Bettye became executive director.

This year’s Hal & Bettye Thurmond Award recipient is Mr. Levi Peterson, Jr. he has shown exemplary public service in education. Mr. Peterson has championed students within the community through his leadership, love, and faith. His vision, principles, and positive attitude have made him a consistent mentor many now successful students. Mr. Peterson stepped foot into a South Carolina classroom in 1960. He moved through Gainesville Elementary, Christian County High School to become a longtime school administrator at Hopkinsville High School. Peterson witnessed and worked from segregation to integration of our public school systems and retired in 1994. He continues to demonstrate dedication to the community as a whole, bringing a sense of unity and peace. Mr. Peterson is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, a veteran of the United States Air Force, a graduate of Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, retired educator, recent author of “The Transformation of a High School Dropout,” devoted husband to Margaret for over 60 years, father of two sons, member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Knights of Columbus, and Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church. Mr. Peterson accepted the award in the presence of his family, friends, and church community.

The Unity Breakfast was opened by a Jain prayer read by Ishani Shah; Jack Shah introduced her. Land Acknowledgment and a Four Winds prayer was presented by Michelle Rodriguez-Cook, Indigenous Healer of Mexica and Apache. The colors were presented by Christian County High School JROTC Color Guard. Performance by Heritage Christian Academy Choir under the direction of Robin O’Hare left the room in awe and inspiration. The Unity Breakfast is celebrated every year in October, along with Unity Week. A proclamation was presented to HRC, proclaiming Unity throughout Hopkinsville-Christian County. Raychel Farmer, HRC Executive Assistant, and graduate of Focus21 Minority Leadership Class of 2020, introduced the class of 2022. Father Michael Charles Abiero of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, reminded us the story of the Good Samaritan and offered a closing prayer.

Idalia Luna, Executive Director of HRC, states, “We are one of Kentucky’s largest and diverse counties. Our purpose behind the Unity Breakfast is to celebrate and honor our efforts to make this a community that embraces each other and strives for belonging.  The Unity Breakfast is a signature event not only for HRC but for our entire community. It reflects the beautiful diversity of our community while embracing the heart of HRC. The core of HRC is to promote and secure the ability to live together peacefully with mutual understanding and respect for each other in all spheres of life. Living by the golden rule.”

 HRC endeavors to promote and secure mutual understanding and respect among all economic, social, religious, ethnic, racial, gender, and age groups; act as a conciliator in controversies involving intergroup and interracial relations, and improve the future of our youth. HRC shall cooperate with federal, state, and local agencies to develop harmonious relationships. HRC will also enlist the support of community leaders, civic, religious, labor, industrial, and commercial groups dedicated to improving such relations and eliminating discriminatory practices.

Photos below were taken by HRC. 

Mayor's Unity Awards 2021

Mayor’s Unity Awards 2021
Jennie Stuart Health
Salvation Army
(Left to Right. Eric Lee, President & CEO Jennie Stuart Health; Alisa Barton & Lt. Lindsey Galabeas, Salvation Army, Mayor Wendell Lynch)

Judge’s Unity Award 2021

Judge’s Unity Award 2021
Christian County Health Department
(Judge/Executive Steve Tribble and Devin Brumfield)