Watertown’s Unity Breakfast Celebrates 20 Years of Honoring MLK Jr.

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Charlie Breitrose

A mural created by Watertown High School students for the 20th annual Unity Breakfast.

A mural created by Watertown High School students for the 20th annual Unity Breakfast.

The Watertown Unity Breakfast celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. for the 20th time on Monday with a record crowd.

World in Watertown hosted the first Unity Breakfast in 2001 at the then Phillips Congregational Church (now the Redeemer Fellowship Church) and about 150 people attended, said Susan Kuder, chair of World in Watertown.

The idea for Watertown having an event to honor Dr. King came from the Rev. Mark Harris, who recently retired as minister of the First Parish Church of Watertown.

The Unity Breakfast reminded retired Watertown Police Officer Tony Physic of MLK Day celebrations he attended growing up in Boston.

“This is exactly how we used to do things on Martin Luther King Day with my mother,” Physic said. “Those services, though, were fun to be at, but they were for the congregation of the church. What’s good about Watertown is they brought the breakfast and opened it to the community.”

The popularity of the event grew quickly, Katerine Button recalled in a video made for the 20th anniversary of the Unity Breakfast by Watertown Cable Access TV.

“The second year there might have been 250 (people), and now we typically have 400,” Button said.

On Monday, as many as 500 people packed the Hellenic Cultural Center for the 2020 Unity Breakfast.

The speakers at the first breakfast were former State Sen. Warren Tolman, David Harris from the Faire Housing Center of Greater Boston and Dr. Westy Egmont of the International Institute of Boston, Kuder said in the video.

“And there was music by the Watertown High School a capella group,” Kuder said.

At Monday’s Unity Breakfast, the Watertones, Watertown High School’s a capella group, was one of the performers.

The Unity Award was first presented in 2002 when it was presented to three people and/or groups: Susan Viskin & Project Literacy, David Downes, and Patricia Moseley from the Respect for Differences Program.

This year, the award went to a group of Watertown High School students who have embraced Dr. King’s principles of non-violence. The group advocated for and brought Kingian Non-violence and restorative circles to WHS by creating curriculum for the ninth-grade advisory classes, with the help of WHS staff and the Kingian Non-Violence Coordinating Committee.

See the video about the 20th anniversary of the Unity Breakfast created by Watertown Cable Access below:

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