Watertown Unity Breakfast Going Virtual in 2021

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The following information was provided by the Unity Breakfast Planning Committee:

Watertown will celebrate its 21st annual Unity Breakfast on January 18, 2021 – Martin Luther King Day. For the past 20 years, the World in Watertown event has brought together hundreds of people at for a hearty breakfast and program that celebrates and honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to racial justice.

This year, however, the Unity Breakfast will be different – it will be a virtual event presented in partnership with Watertown Cable Access Corp (WCA-TV). It will be streamed at 10:00 am on January 18, 2021 (MLK Day), on the 2021 Unity Breakfast website and the WCA-TV FaceBook page, and simultaneously broadcast by WCA-TV on channels 9 (Comcast) and 3 (RCN). The program will be recorded so that it will also be available for subsequent on-demand viewing.

A Unity Breakfast Planning Committee has been working since mid-summer to organize the 2021 event. Given the heightened awareness of racial injustice after George Floyd’s death, the Committee agreed that it was essential to move forward with virtual event in 2021 in spite of the pandemic.

Angela Robinson, a member of the Planning Committee, explained the Committee’s thinking: “As the conversation about racial injustice gained momentum throughout our nation and right here in Watertown, it was more important than ever to come together as a community—both to celebrate what we’ve achieved and challenge each other to do better.” 

The Planning Committee also initiated several outreach and “brainstorming” meetings and was able to recruit new participants – especially youth and people of color – to the planning process. Catherine
Fabian, a high school sophomore, is new and explained her reason for participating: “After everything that has happened this year, I think having a Unity Breakfast is more important than ever, and so when I was given the opportunity to be a new voice in the planning committee, I was very excited. This is a wonderful event that brings together the community with a focus on the life and legacy of MLK, and all that it encompasses, and it has always been an event I love going to.” 

Sarah Pardo, a Watertown resident and Wellesley College junior, is also a new member of the Planning Committee. She shared her reasons for joining the committee: “Growing up in Watertown, attending the Unity Breakfast with my family was always something I looked forward to … I joined the planning committee for this year’s Unity Breakfast because the breakfast has always been a space where the full diversity of voices in Watertown are welcomed and heard. This year, I hope that chorus of voices can tune into a greater conversation about equity and inclusion.”

The result is a 2021 Unity Breakfast in a new, virtual format that will include traditional elements – Middle School and High School winners of the essay contest, a keynote speaker, an Honorary Host, and presentation of the Unity Award to an outstanding member of the Watertown community.

In addition, the program has added something new – story sharing, when members of the Watertown community (youth and adults) will share their personal experiences of bias and discrimination. As Swathi Sivasubramanian (the organizer of the Unity Breakfast story share) says, “We want to disrupt the narrative that racism and identity-based discrimination don’t happen in Watertown.”

The 2021 Unity Breakfast Planning Committee members include: Alan Medville, Angela Robinson, Ben Jerome, Catherine Fabian, Claire Fabian, Chuck Dickinson (Chair), David Leon, Felicia Sullivan, Kathy Button, Michael Bobbitt, Sarah Pardo, Swathi Sivasubramanian, and Will Twombly. Dan Hogan, producer at WCA-TV, is providing technical and video production assistance.

As in previous years, the 2021 Unity Breakfast will be sponsored by the World in Watertown in collaboration with Survival Education Fund, Inc. and Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment. Critical funding for this year’s event is provided by Tufts Health Plan Foundation,
Watetown Community Foundation, and Watertown Savings Bank. To learn more, visit the Unity Breakfast web page or email worldinwatertown@yahoo.com.

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