Celebrating the 2023 TAASU Freedom Breakfast

Disabled But Not Really founder Wesley Hamilton shares his path to empowerment
Wesley Hamilton takes the stage at the TAASU Freedom Breakfast

The African American Student Union (TAASU) Freedom Breakfast was created to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., promote unity and harmony within the UMKC community and celebrate the university’s values of diversity, inclusion and respect.

This year marked the 32nd anniversary of the breakfast and included student performances. Michele D. Smith, vice provost for student affairs, dean of students, recognized the importance of TAASU and the Multicultural Student Association.

“Love, peace and equity still have a way to go,” Smith said. “But we are committed to progress and change by developing and sustaining a culture of inclusion.”

Keynote speaker Wesley Hamilton, Disabled But Not Really founder, spoke about his life growing up on Kansas City’s Eastside. Hamilton moved out of his family’s house at 16 years old. A single parent at 22, he was shot three times in the back just after his 24th birthday.


TAASU Freedom Breakfast Contributors

Left to right: Keichandra Dess-Burnett, Malowa Mays, Makiya Carmons, Noma Ruben, Jalyn Williams, Khalil Shelton, Khyra Curtain, Ta'Sha Lumpkins

He spent three years in recovery from a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed below the waist. His rehabilitation led to a focus on health, and competition as an adaptive bodybuilder. Hamilton founded Disabled But Not Really, an organization designed to bring positivity and hope to the disabled community.

“I have not had a lot of opportunity to celebrate my Blackness,” Hamilton said. “It’s good for people to see the journey.”

Hamilton, who was featured on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” in Kansas City, is focused on serving communities better to support mental health and self-esteem.

“Slavery, Jim Crow, high levels of stress, anxiety and depression have a profound impact on our daily lives. We need to do more.”

Published: Feb 16, 2023

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