Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




Photo of State Sen. Maida Coleman

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 20, 2002 - Missouri State Sen. Maida Coleman of the 5th Senatorial District of Missouri will be the guest speaker at the 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast Jan. 20 in the Show Me Center.

The breakfast buffet is planned for 8 a.m. with the program to start at 8:30 a.m. Admission will be $7 for the public, $3 for children ages 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under, $3 for University students without a meal plan, and free for Southeast students with a University meal plan. Tickets will not be sold at the door but will be available in advance at Schnucks Food and Drug Jan. 2-16 and at Southeast Bookstore Jan. 2-17. Prepaid sponsored tickets for elementary and high school students will be available upon request.

Coleman, the breakfast speaker, is a Democrat representing part of the city of St. Louis. She recently was elected to a leadership position with the Missouri Senate, now serving as assistant minority floor leader. She is the first female and also the first African American elected to a leadership position in the Missouri Senate. In the Missouri Senate, Coleman serves on several committees, including agriculture, conservation, parks and tourism, appropriations, gubernatorial appointments, financial and governmental organization, and veterans' affairs and elections.

She was born in Sikeston, Mo., on July 1, 1954, the oldest of eight children. Upon graduating from Lincoln University in Jefferson City with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism, Coleman moved to St. Louis and worked for the St. Louis American newspaper.

During her professional career, she has served as director of the Secretary of State's St. Louis Field Office, assistant director of housing management with the St. Louis Housing Authority, and legislative monitor for the Girl Scout Councils of Missouri.

Coleman's interest in politics evolved as the result of a conversation in the late 1980s with now Missouri Supreme Court Judge Ronnie White. A former state representative for the 63rd District, White invited Coleman to a 7th Ward Democratic Organization Committee meeting in the City of St. Louis. She has since held various roles in the organization including president. She is now serving her second term as committeewoman of the 7th Ward. Coleman was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives from the 63rd District in 2000. She served in this capacity for one year before being elected by the leadership of the 5th Senatorial District to represent them in the Missouri Senate. She was successfully elected to office Feb. 5, 2002.

Additionally, Coleman is vice chairman of the St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee. She sits on a variety of boards, many of them non-profit. Her affiliations, both past and present, include the Firemen's Retirement System of St. Louis, trustee; Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, commissioner; Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, commissioner; City of St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment Citizens Advisory Committee; St. Louis Association for Retarded Citizens; St. Louis Public Schools Role Model Program; Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists; American Red Cross, CPR and Community First Aid instructor; and Women in Leadership.

Coleman is the proud mother of three children: John, Alaina and James.

As a part of the breakfast activities and new to the event this year will be a display of mittens and winter items collected recently to be dispersed to foster children throughout Southeast Missouri. The collection was launched in December and is designed to reflect Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s commitment to improving the human condition. The collection is sponsored by the M.L.K. Jr. Celebration Planning Committee, in partnership with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) of Southeast Missouri State University.

"We chose to collect these items as a symbolic representation of Dr. King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech and, in particular, the passage 'I have a dream that one day . . . little black boys and girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and girls and walk together as sisters and brothers,'" said Gretchen Weber, assistant director for student involvement at Southeast. "As a planning committee, we felt it was extremely important to do more than just remember Dr. King on January 20 at the breakfast, so we are trying to follow his example by providing a way for each individual, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, or financial means, to make a small difference for our community.

Items will continue to be collected on campus throughout the week. At the end of the week, members of the M.L.K. Jr. Celebration Planning Committee will work with the Department of Children and Family Services and area shelters to distribute the items. Participating organizations will be recognized at the breakfast.

Later in the evening at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20, a 13th Annual Community Celebration is planned at the Livingway Church, 1224 Bloomfield Road. This ecumenical evening of worship is open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Downtown Council of Churches of Cape Girardeau. The Rev. Bob Towner will preside at the celebration.

Other events are scheduled to begin in January and continue through February, when the University will celebrate Black History Month. Beginning Jan. 20 and continuing through Feb. 28, Southeast Missouri State University students will be selected from various academic disciplines to research and make topical presentations in regional elementary school classrooms on significant events and individuals of African American history. For more information on this Speakers and Presenters Bureau, call Trent Ball at (573) 651-6135.

Common Hour programs are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 20-24 in the University Center lobby. Throughout the week, individuals and organizations may assist with the collection of mittens for disbursement to communities in the service region; participate in a program on "Organizing Peaceful Protests;" hear a performance by the University's Regenerations Choir; and watch a video highlighting Dr. King and the Civil Rights effort. During this time period on Jan. 23, students may participate in a Volunteer Fair, in which a number of organizations in the community, including the Humane Society and the Area Wide United Way, will be on hand to discuss volunteer opportunities for interested students. For more information on the Volunteer Fair and Common Hour programs, call Vida Mays at (573) 290-5111 or Gretchen Weber at (573) 651-2280.

A number of activities are planned in February in connection with Black History Month, including the Sixth Annual Read-A-Thon; the Annual Black History Month Book Sale; an open forum and discussion of the book, Envy of the World: On Being a Black Man in America; an African American Artists Showcase and Reception, a Knowledge Bowl and a Minority Career Exploration Dinner. University students served by the Office of Minority Student Programs and Student Support Services may participate in a Black Heritage and Civil Rights Tour, visiting historical sites and institutions of higher learning, including Sloss Furnace Museum, the Tuskegee Institute and the Alabama and Georgia cities of Selma, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta.

Also planned during Black History Month is an open forum and discussion on the state of relationships and community between African American men and women, a performance of the Regeneration Gospel Choir and other participating college choirs, and a panel discussion about the structure of teacher education programs in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Far East. Black History Month also will feature a Campus-Wide Career Fair, a Spoken Word Coffee House, and a Black Movie Weekend that will showcase decades of African American cinema.

For more information on the 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast and Black History Month events, visit


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