MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project hosted its 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast Monday.
The fundraising event and celebration, held at Jungle Island, brought together members of South Florida’s diverse community to commemorate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as to demonstrate community-wide support of the mentoring program.
Actor and director Charles “Roc” Dutton was the keynote speaker.
Dutton was also the speaker, exactly 20 years ago, who kicked-off the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast. At that time, juvenile crime and violence was at its highest and although not as high today, it remains a serious problem.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, Founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project stated, “We have come full circle, Mr. Dutton came to Miami to spark hope in our young people about their future, and now, some 20 years later, he is poised to once again spark hope in our young people.“
Dutton was a juvenile delinquent in and out of reform school and correctional facilities, by the age of 12. Charged and convicted of manslaughter at the age of 17, Mr. Dutton ended up spending roughly 12 years in a penitentiary before the age of 26. While in prison, Dutton found his passion for acting and directing, and eventually went on to earn a Master’s degree in acting from the prestigious Yale School of Drama.
“I used to be a hardcore, hard-hearted guy. Once you make the decision to change, all kinds of things happen.” Dutton has said previously.
The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Scholarship Breakfast raises money for scholarships for graduating seniors of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project. This year, 124 scholarships were awarded to deserving Role Model students in the Class of 2014 who never dreamed that college would be a part of their portfolio. The program, an in-school dropout prevention mentoring program for boys ages 9-19, has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships since its founding in 1993.