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Q&A: Former WNBA player Tamika Catchings to speak at MLK Leadership Breakfast



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Martin Luther King Jr. speaks Jan. 1, 1960, in Washington, D.C. This year's keynote speaker for IUnity Summit is Tamika Catchings, a former WNBA player.  Tribune News Service Buy Photos

IU’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration offers plenty of different ways to honor the activist and his work. From the annual IUnity Summit to the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, there are plenty of possibilities on the day off.

Among these events is the leadership breakfast with keynote speaker Tamika Catchings. Catchings played 16 seasons in the WNBA, is a University of Tennessee alumna and operates the Tea’s Me Café in Indianapolis. In 2016, Catchings released an autobiographical book, “Catch a Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion,” about her story of overcoming hearing loss and high expectations, among other things.

The breakfast with Catchings will begin at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 21 at the the Indiana Memorial Union’s Alumni Hall, and a book signing will take place immediately after. The Indiana Daily student spoke over the phone with Catchings to discuss the event.

Indiana Daily Student: What does it mean to you to be able to speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event?

Catchings: I’m super excited. I think anytime you can talk for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, first and foremost, just the impact that he’s had on the world and for us all to be able to celebrate him and what it represents, so I’m excited about being able to come to IU and share about my legacy and obviously just share with all the students and the faculty.

IU began giving students the day off of classes in 1998 and started the “Day On, Not a Day Off” events. Why do you think it's important for IU to recognize the holiday this way?

I think it’s cool. I mean I think it’s great that you’re going back to his legacy, to Martin Luther King and what he represented, to be able to celebrate that. You think about all the other holidays we take off, and it’s right up there. It’s for what he stood for, all the changes that came from his word, from his speech, and just the way that he lived his life. I know we think about the holidays, but it’s more like ‘Oh, we got a day off,’ but I think the way they celebrate it, how it’s not only with the speaker and me coming but even the different events you guys have planned for students and faculty and people to get involved in. I think that’s really cool.

Are you planning on attending any of IU’s other events?

I am not, because we have a lot going on here in Indy, but I feel like every single day is a celebration day to be able to give back and impact lives. Sometimes we focus on one day more than others, and not just with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but there are other holidays that we celebrate. I think part of my message will touch on leaving a legacy year-round and not necessarily having to step up for one day, or two days, or three days, but really being able to live your life and know that every single day, every single thing that you do, you’re leaving a legacy for somebody.

So, are you planning on giving your speech about leaving a legacy?

Oh, you will find out. That’s part of it. 

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