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ASU’s MLK breakfast to be at West campus

January 12, 2009

ASU will celebrate the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. at an MLK celebration breakfast to be held at the West campus for the first time, 7-9 a.m.,  Jan. 29 in La Sala Ballroom. The event also will honor 24 schoolchildren from around the state who won ASU’s annual MLK poster-essay contest.

Masaji Inoshita, a lifelong historian and civil rights advocate who came to Arizona as a Japanese-American internee during World War II, will receive ASU’s 2009 MLK Servant-Leadership Award. Inoshita, now 89, was sent with his family to the Gila River Relocation Camp. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served with the intelligence services. Years later he began speaking about his experiences in the camp, teaching about the need for diversity of races and religions in society.

A retired farmer, Inoshita has spoken before local and national groups and has won many awards, including the U.S. Army Presidential Merit Citation and the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. His audiences are fascinated by his stories, but his main lesson is one of love and respect for fellow man.

Elodie Billionniere will receive the MLK Student Servant-Leadership Award for her efforts to help others in the community. While studying for both a master’s of education and a doctorate in computer science, she serves as president of the Black Graduate Students Association, reaching out to support students at all four campuses.

She also volunteers regularly at the YWCA Haven House shelter for abused women, serves as a Big Sister, holds workshops for homeless persons at St. Vincent de Paul, organizes community service projects at her church, mentors undergraduate students and works with refugee families.

This is the 24th year for ASU to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. and the achievements of the civil rights movement. A team of six graphic design students in the classes of professors Alfred Sanft and Mookesh Patel won a design contest to create this year’s MLK posters and promotion pieces. 

Offices and classrooms on the four ASU campuses will be closed on Jan. 19 to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but students will gather to perform community service that day in the neighborhood in downtown Phoenix. Register to volunteer at   

Two additional events will take place on Jan. 29, following the breakfast. ASU will host 500 schoolchildren for the traditional March on West at 9:30 a.m. on Fletcher Library lawn at the West campus, reenacting King’s march on Washingtonand his “I have a dream” speech by Charles St. Clair. An MLK student rally will be at 11:30 a.m. outside the Memorial Union at the Tempe campus, featuring Elodie Billionniere and other student presentations.

Related events are scheduled for February at all four campuses, in conjunction with Black History Month. For details about all of the events, go to See the children’s winning posters at