Yvette McGee Brown, who will deliver the keynote address at the Columbus Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Breakfast Jan. 20, says ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
"The important thing I want people to take away from the breakfast is that people can lead, no matter who they are," said Brown, a former Franklin County judge and Ohio Supreme Court justice.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was an inspiration because he was a humble man who relentlessly pursued equality and justice for African-Americans, Brown said.
"I'm going to talk about not waiting on someone else to lead," she said.
The 29th annual breakfast is slated for 7 a.m. Jan. 20 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The program begins at 7:30 and adjourns at 10 a.m.
Tickets are available through Jan. 17 at the King Arts Complex, 867 Mt. Vernon Ave. Tickets are $40 each and $400 for a table of 10.
The day is full of additional activities, including the 20th annual march commemorating the march over the Edmond Pettus Bridge -- otherwise known as "Bloody Sunday" -- in 1965 in Selma, Ala.
The march begins at 4:45 p.m. at Columbus City Hall.
It will be followed by a free program, which includes musical and dance performances, along with actors' portrayals of significant historical figures in the city's past, from 6 to 7 p.m., in the Franklin County Veterans Memorial..
"Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy lives on in Columbus in how we have embraced the diversity of our great city," said Napoleon Bell, executive director of the city's Community Relations Commission.
"Dr. King stated, 'We may have all come on different ships, but were in the same boat now,' " Bell said.
"Under the leadership of Mayor Michael B. Coleman, the city of Columbus continues to be the rising tide to lift up all boats."
Brown served on the Franklin County Court of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court benches for nine years.
She left in 2002 to become founding president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Brown was among a group of advocates who raised $10 million for the center, which helps rape and abuse victims with a variety of medical and legal services.
In 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, asked Brown to join his ticket, replacing Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who left to run for a U.S. Senate seat.
Strickland, who lost to Republican John Kasich, appointed Brown to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Brown, 53, grew up on the Northeast Side of Columbus and graduated from Mifflin High School in 1978.
She graduated from Ohio University with a degree in journalism with the hope of going to Washington, D.C., and becoming a spokeswoman for a politician.
Taking the advice of a college adviser, she decided to become a lawyer and graduated from Ohio State University's law school.
She said her education has served as a solid foundation for life.
"I've been able to do everything in my life and been fearless because I've always had an education to fall back on," Brown said.
A lifelong Democrat, Brown said she always eschewed the fierce partisanship and rhetoric so common in today's politics.
"I've never really been a partisan," she said. "I think I'm like most of America. I'm firmly in the middle."
Brown recently celebrated her one-year anniversary at the law firm of Jones Day, where she practices business and commercial litigation and appellate work.
She said she's settling into civilian life quite well.
"It's actually very nice," she said. "You don't have to run for election.
"You don't have to eat at a lot of chicken dinners."