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Lucas speech kicks off Black History Month at NMSU

Former sports great and two-time All-American John Lucas told those attending the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast Friday there are three things that help one truly succeed in life.

John Lucas outlines his philosophy on life at the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Acceptance of who you are, believing in something greater than yourself and learning to care about others are the basic ABCs of life, Lucas said at the event that leads into the celebration of Black History Month at New Mexico State University.

Lucas made frequent mention of his struggle to overcome the obstacles in his life. His goal in life, he said, was to be the first black president of the United States. His reality is that he is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Lucas also emphasized the importance of "getting up from the mat" when you're down and the experience of descending into Hell and coming back wiser and better - and with the ability to help others.

His speech, peppered with humor and down-to-earth insight, followed the presentation of the Racial Harmony Award to NMSU President Michael V. Martin at the breakfast. Martin, who received the award for his progressive leadership in striving for unity and harmony on the campus and in the larger community, said he did not believe the recognition was for anything he had done in the past.

"This is an award for things to be done," Martin said. "You do things you love to do, and it's nice to be recognized for them. But I take this as a directive, as an award of more things that we need to do in the future."

Sponsored by the NMSU Black Programs Office, the annual breakfast helps fund scholarships for black students. Following this year's breakfast, enough money had been raised to endow another scholarship. Last fall, 27 students were attending NMSU on scholarships from this program.

New Mexico State University will continue celebrating Black History Month with a variety of activities through February.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25th, in Hardman Hall Room 206, the documentary "At the River I Stand" will be presented. The documentary reconstructs the months in Memphis and the labor dispute prior to the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico will give the presentation "Buffalo Soldiers: Military Heroes of the Southwest" at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in NMSU's Corbett Center Room 210. The presentation will teach how the Buffalo Soldiers, black units of the U. S. Army from 1866 to 1900, overcame great hardships as they served their nation with honor and distinction.

Black students at NMSU will be honored for their outstanding academic achievement during the Clara Belle Williams Award Ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, in the Corbett Center Auditorium. Williams was the first black graduate of NMSU.

Following the ceremony will be the opening of the exhibit "Our Sisters' Voices: From Africa to the Americas" at 4 p.m. in the Corbett Center Gallery. The exhibit will showcase posters honoring and celebrating contemporary women from Africa and the American Diaspora.

There will be a Blue and White Talent Show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, in NMSU's Hardman Hall Room 106. The event is sponsored by NMSU's Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Applications to enter the talent show are available in Garcia Annex Room 135.

A presentation of "New Mexico's African-American Legacy: Visible, Vital, Valuable" will be given at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, in Corbett Center Room 210. The presentation, given by Albuquerque historian Rita Powdrell, is about the African-American presence in New Mexico from 1870 to 1930.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information contact NMSU's Office of Black Programs at (505) 646-4208.