Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP delivers the keynote address at the Annual Triangle MLK Breakfast.
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The atmosphere in the Sheraton Imperial’s vast ballroom was festive on Monday, January 18, 2010, as over 2,000 people gathered for a breakfast to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Capitol Broadcasting Company sponsored the Annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast for the 20th time this year.
The event kicked off with a buffet breakfast and then an extensive program featuring some of the state’s highest elected officials and clergy members. Dr. William Barber, President of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP and Pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church of Christ in Goldsboro provided the keynote address.
“If you ignore the poor, if you ignore the downtrodden, there will eventually be an implosion,” said Barber, adding the King had said the same. “There is a blind spot in economic theory today; it’s called consciousness.”
Barber’s words drew the crowd to their feet more than once as he warned of a silent depression and the dangers of re-segregation.
“Don’t ever forget where we’ve come from and how hard it was to get here,” he said.
The Leviticus Rap Group provides musical entertainment that gets much of the crowd on their feet & dancing despite the early hour.
Barber played off the theme of the Martin Luther King weekend, three days of tributes planned by the Raleigh-Wake MLK Celebration Committee, words of King’s: “We may all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“Ships and boats aren’t meant to go backwards,” said Barber. “Don’t turn this ship around.”
CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon introduced Barber, stressing the importance of working together in our region and the importance of diversity in the Triangle.
Before Barber’s impassioned speech, a bevy of local religious leaders offered prayers.
“Let us live the vision that King gave the world,” said Rabbi Lucy H.F. Dinner of the Temple Beth Or Synagogue in Raleigh. She offered the Prayer for Equality and Reconciliation.
Political leaders spoke as well, calling for unity.
“I believe the best way to honor his legacy is to put into action some of his hopes for a better community,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tony Gurley. “We must work together as a community.”
N.C. Governor Bev Perdue spoke as well, her second appearance from the podium as the first female governor of the state.
N.C. Governor Bev Perdue tells of North Carolinians who were ordinary people that did extraordinary things.
Some breakfast attendees are just beginning a lifetime of celebrating Dr. King’s work.
“I would not be here today as the first woman governor of North Carolina but for the work of Dr. King and others who will never know my name,” said Perdue. “We’ve come so far, and we will not allow ourselves to go backwards. Each of us have to expect more from the people we elect to serve us.”
Perhaps one of the most impressive speakers of the day came in the form of an 8th grader. Evan Haynes, a participant in the Lightner Youth Leadership Academy, held his own among a formidable head table of adults.
He themed his speech “the future belongs to those who create it” and said “creating a good future begins with your thoughts.” He talked about the importance of setting goals so that we have direction in where we’re going.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker took the podium after Evans to announce the establishment of the Martin Luther King Sustaining Fund. Meeker wants the MLK Celebration Committee to become a permanent organization to help lay the groundwork for a new downtown MLK Center on Fayetteville Street and set up a new community-based, anti-gang network of mentors.
Meeker said, “Let’s make this not just a weekend of celebration, but a year of work in our communities.”