Breakfast Group founder receives MLK Medal of Distinguished Service
| Ernie Dunston with his wife Patricia and Councilmember Gossett
For over six decades, Ernie Dunston has been a force in Seattle’s African-American Community as a coach, mentor, and advocate for young people who had no voice. The Metropolitan King County today recognized that lifetime of service in rewarding Dunston the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.
“Ernie is the most selfless person I know in our community,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, who nominated Ernie for the medal. “He has exhibited his commitment to servicing African American, at-risk youth through the Breakfast Group’s Project Mister Program. Ernie has led the efforts to lift hundreds of Black youth out of poverty.”
Ernie came to Seattle from Washington, D.C. to become a member of the Seattle University Basketball team in 1959. From the Seattle U Campus, Ernie became a teacher and coach at Seattle’s O’Dea High School, then moved into the business world when he joined the management program at Sears Roebuck & Co. Dunston spent the next twenty-eight years in retail sales management, managing several Sears retail stores, including Seattle-Roosevelt, Everett Mall and Alderwood Mall.
Ernie also became involved in the lives of young people in the Central Area, his focus being on programs designed to assist youth and promote economic development in the African American community. Dunston was one of the founders of The Breakfast Group, an organization of African American, business and professional men that worked on providing role models for “at risk” inner–city youth. The Breakfast group encourages young people to stay on the educational track and assists youth in obtaining college scholarships and other financial aid for education beyond high school.
Along with The Breakfast Group, Ernie is also a long-serving Board member for the local Boys & Girls Clubs. He is a charter member and Past-Board President of the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club and a recipient of Boys Clubs of America “Man & Boy Award”-- the highest honor awarded by that organization.
“I would like to thank the Martin Luther King, Jr. County Council for this recognition,” said Dunston. “I, and members of the Breakfast Group, do what we do in the community, not for personal recognition, but to shine the light on the youth that we serve by offering a hand up in the way that we were supported in our younger days.”