Winner of Chancellor’s MLK Scholarship announced; speaker invokes stories of two Kings

MCC student Jaquaylah Taylor (center), 2016 winner of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, with MCC trustees David Disney (from left), Richard Tolbert and Mariann Tow, and Chancellor Mark James
MCC student Jaquaylah Taylor (center), 2016 winner of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, with MCC trustees David Disney (from left), Richard Tolbert and Mariann Tow, and Chancellor Mark James. (Photos by Matt Scharhag/MCC)

Jaquaylah Taylor of Kansas City, who hopes to become a high school teacher and eventually a principal, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Chancellor’s Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship at Metropolitan Community College.

The announcement was made Jan. 22 at a luncheon at the College that honored Dr. King’s legacy and revealed the second annual scholarship winner.

After performing a song at the event, Jaquaylah Taylor was surprised with the MLK scholarship.
After performing a song at the event, Jaquaylah Taylor was surprised with the MLK scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded to students in MCC’s early college program. Among other criteria, they must show leadership potential and an interest in serving the MCC and wider communities.

Jaquaylah, a participant in MCC’s Early College Academy and a Kauffman Scholar, takes classes on the MCC-Penn Valley campus as a high school student. When she graduates from Lincoln College Preparatory Academy this spring, she will also graduate from MCC. She plans to transfer to the University of Missouri and one day earn a master’s degree and a doctorate.

“I will be an example to all African Americans, letting them know it doesn’t matter where you come from but where you’re going,” Jaquaylah wrote in an essay for the scholarship. “I also plan to create my own scholarship in the later future to help African Americans that are insistent on being the best them that they can be.”

She added: “My community will know me for being educated, positive, influential, and great. I am not where I come from, and can’t isn’t in my vocabulary.”

Jaquaylah, a member of the Kansas City Girls Choir, got a standing ovation at the scholarship luncheon after performing Yolanda Adams’ “Still I Rise.” She was then surprised with the $500 MLK scholarship.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough connected the messages of Dr. King and Rodney King.
Dr. Walter Kimbrough connected the messages of Dr. King and Rodney King.

Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in New Orleans, gave the keynote speech on “Achieving the Kings’ Dream,” which connected Dr. King’s message with that of Rodney King, who during the 1992 Los Angeles riots asked a question that would become his legacy: “Can we all get along?” (In 1991, LAPD officers were seen on videotape beating King after a high-speed car chase. The acquittals of three of the four officers sparked the rioting.)

[Watch Dr. Kimbrough’s speech on MCC’s YouTube channel.]

The second annual Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon was designed to give MCC employees time to focus and reflect on Dr. King’s legacy. The vision for this initiative was developed by  Kathy Walter-Mack, the MCC chief of staff. The event was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and  planned by Robert Page, the executive director of inclusion and engagement.

Dozens of MCC students and employees volunteered this year for the MLK Day of Service at agencies including animal shelters, thrift stores, Habitat for Humanity ReStores and a transitional housing program. A group of MCC retirees made lap blankets for young patients at Children’s Mercy hospitals.