TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Organization of Black Affairs will host the 43rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Breakfast to honor the life and legacy of the Civil Rights leader.

TOBA was founded in 1979 with the mission to inspire and prepare leaders to advocate for the Black community.

“The TOBA organization has been able to stand in times where it was not the politically correct thing to do,” said TOBA Board Member, Gary Hartfield.

TOBA helped ensure Black citizens could serve as city, county and state leaders. They even spent three years pushing for State Road 574 to renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa.

44 years later, the organization is still making an impact on Tampa Bay.

“When our country understands the need of diversity and the value of all of its people, TOBA stands ready to continue that mission,” Hartfield said.

Hartfield is a TOBA board member and the chair of their leadership institute. It’s a six month program designed to turn community members into leaders who advocate for change.

“With the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, our response was to create the TOBA leadership institute,” he said.

Now, many leaders who come out of the institute help lead TOBA’s annual MLK leadership breakfast, like Katia Saintfort-Russ, who will serve as the co-chair for this year’s breakfast.

“It feels great knowing that TOBA saw something saw something in myself that I did not see and being able to be on this platform and show future generations that it can be done,” Saintfort-Russ said.

Like previous years, more than a thousand leaders and community members will attend the 43rd Annual MLK Leadership Breakfast. Dr. Rosyln Clark Artis will be this year’s keynote speaker. She is the first Black woman to serve as president of Benedict College in South Carolina.

Saintfort-Russ hopes people leave the breakfast inspired and wanting to carry out Dr. King’s dream.

“The breakfast forms a platform to honor the legacy of Dr. King, in addition to that we want to honor the Black women who helped propel the civil rights movement,” she said. “When we leave we find a way to live his dream and not just talk about it but be about it and act on it.”

The breakfast is Monday, January 16th at 6:45 a.m. at the JW Marriott on Water Street. Tickets are still available.