Save the Date - 2024 MLK Commemoration At Florida Tech, January 18

Join Us As We Celebrate The Life And Achievements Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., As Well As Recognize Two Outstanding Community Members Serving Brevard County.

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2024

Time: 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Location: Gleason Performing Arts Center - Florida Tech campus map

Address: 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL

Tickets: Free

Optional: Come to campus early and see the Breaking Barriers mural in honor of Dr. Julius Montgomery, located on the third floor of Evans Library. Viewing is available from 5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.

Registration coming soon!

Please check back


2023 Awardees

Dr. Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award Winner - Alberta Wilson

Photo of Alberta Wilson

Alberta Wilson served as the president of the Cocoa Rockledge Civic League for over 10 years and established the Marian Davis Scholarship Fund. She also served as the president of the Central Brevard County Branch of the NAACP for nine years.

She was appointed to the State Board of Community Colleges by the late Governor Lawton Childs and Jeb Bush and served on the Brevard Community College Board of Trustees for another four years.

Alberta is a Diamond Life member of the NAACP, a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and a doctor of divinity degree recipient.

Rev. Harvey L. Riley Bridge Builder Award Winner - Jennifer East

Jennifer East is the creative director for, a global 501(c)3 charity, and works with several organizations in Brevard and Central Florida.

She directed a documentary titled Moving History, an insightful account of black history in Melbourne, Florida, following the restoration and tradition behind the first black church in Crane Creek. Through the narratives of lifelong residents, powerful stories unfold and a glimpse of a tightly-knit, resilient community comes to light.

Jennifer is a noted visionary, proficient in conceptual design, full-scale design, graphic design, illustration, photography, videography, web design, and social media promotions, and has worked with a multitude of clients.

Keynote Speaker - Gaye Montgomery

Gaye Montgomery is an attorney and mother of two adult children. She founded Montgomery Compliance Law PLLC and chairs the Audit Committee of Grubb Properties LLC.

She is the daughter of Dr. Julius Montomery, Florida Tech's first African American student to enroll at the university and the first African American professional to work for the United States' nascent space program in 1956.

Gaye spent 20 years at Altria, where she led multiple law department practice groups, including global compliance, sales, marking, communications, corporate responsibility, and employment.

Featuring Leonard Ross

Performing a live rendition of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

How to Get to the Gleason Performing Arts Center

Main university address: 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, FL 32901

**Map is from Babcock St. campus entrance.

A map of the Florida Tech campus.

Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award

The Julius Montgomery Pioneer Award is presented each year to a deserving candidate to honor their commitment and contributions to their community. It is also a recognition of the pioneering spirit of Julius Montgomery and his selfless contributions to our great university.

Julius Montgomery was the first African American student to sign up for classes at the newly conceived Brevard Engineering College (Florida Tech) in the summer of 1958. The new college was using classroom space provided by the local school district. A few days before the first day of class on September 22, 1958, officials at the Brevard County School District learned that an African American was enrolled and immediately issued an ultimatum to President Jerry Keuper. They warned if Mr. Montgomery and any other aspirant African American students were allowed to attend class, the school district would prohibit the use of classroom space at Eau Gallie Junior High School. Rescinding the use of school district facilities to hold classes would have effectively been the college's death knell. 

When Julius became aware of the ultimatum, he voluntarily withdrew his application—and his sacrifice saved the founding of our university. President Keuper promised Mr. Montgomery that there would be a place for him at the university once Florida Tech secured its own campus and wasn't constricted by another entity's limited views. In 1961, soon after Florida Tech received the property on Country Club Road (now part of the current campus), Julius enrolled in classes.

 Watch how Julius Montgomery helped Florida Tech get its start

 On January 13, 2020, Julius was awarded an honorary doctorate by Florida Tech President Dwayne McCay in recognition of his legacy at Florida Tech. 

Dr. Montgomery died on January 22, 2020 at a nursing home in Melbourne, Florida, just days after Florida Tech awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters. He was 90. Read his obituary written by the New York Times.

Scholarship Fund

The Dr. Julius Montgomery Scholarship Fund was established as a testament to his legacy at Florida Tech, providing financial support for students from historically marginalized backgrounds. To learn more and donate, click here.

2023 MLK Commemoration