“Dr. King challenged each of us not to flinch in the face of hatred. He taught us to work unwaveringly for the prophetic vision of justice and peace, teaching courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles.”
– Rabbi Lucy Dinner
Capitol Broadcasting sponsored the 37th Annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on Monday, January 16, an event the company has supported for over three decades. The 2017 breakfast took place at the Sheraton Imperial in Research Triangle Park. Rev. James White provided the keynote address for the morning, themed “Where Do We Go From Here?” the title of King’s final book, published in 1967.
Doors opened at 5:45am with a free breakfast for all. The program began with the Pledge of Allegiance and then the crowd sang together to “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Both are hallmarks of the annual event.
A variety of community and religious leaders spoke from the podium. A future leader, Millbrook High School Senior Zaria Hudson, provided a Special Youth Moment, reading an essay she had written about the differences between generations with technology and social media.
“What can we do to promote the positive?” Hudson asked.
She spoke of using media outlets to our advantage, quoting Dr. King saying, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane echoed the positive sentiments of the morning, speaking in a pre-recorded video montage of Triangle Mayors. She said she sees “people now really wanting to find ways to pull together.”
“We owe it to the generations who have brought us to this point to work together,” McFarlane said.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Director of Diversity and Work Life Programs David Laboy spoke of the event’s theme.
“Where do we go from here?” he said. “Dr. King would say we go forward.”
“When we are tempted to cower, let us muster the courage to replace vulgarity with human dignity, the narrow-minded with the open-hearted, vanity with right, expediency with justice, the destruction of hate with the healing source of love, the cowardice of submission with the creative power of courage.”
– Rabbi Lucy Dinner
Early in his keynote, Dr. James White, Senior Pastor of Christ Our King Community Church in Raleigh, said, “I am thankful for Capitol Broadcasting and their commitment and their vision of understanding the reality that we every year need a moment to come together as a community from throughout the Triangle and other areas to pause.”
He then spoke of the theme of the breakfast, saying it came from a time when Dr. King needed to take a pause in 1967.
“He posed the question because there were so many different things that were happening,” said White, “and Dr. King’s question sort of pierced the illusions of gain. He had this question of ‘Where do we go from here?’ That question is important because, Dr. King said it this way. He said, ‘To lose an illusion is to gain truth.’ He would say that ‘nothing in this world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity’.”
White shared a story from the Gospel of John, the story of an invalid Jesus approached at a healing pool. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed, and the man complained he had no one to help him get in the pool and that others kept getting in line in front of him.
“The story gives us a picture of extreme brokenness,” explained White as he spoke of the blind and lame who were also around the pool. “All of these people have become adjusted. They’ve adjusted to their tragedies and adjusted to their problems. They’ve become adjusted. I wonder this morning if we’ve become adjusted?”
He spoke of issues in our society and hate crimes and of growth in the Triangle when there are still those in need in our area, as things that have become accepted. He spoke about how we have become adjusted to things and conditions that are not ideal or what they should be.
“We need to become maladjusted,” he challenged. “Maybe we need to ask the question, ‘Do we want to be healed?’”
He said, “The question shifts the way we think about something and often sets in motion a process that can result in change.” He wondered that “maybe we don’t want to change?”
White talked about about praying without truly having hope that the prayers and wishes will come true. And he wound the story back to the invalid, as Jesus told him to get up, pick up his bed and walk.
He concluded by charging the crowd, “Get up. Pick up. Let’s walk together.”
WRAL-TV live streamed the breakfast in its entirety on WRAL.com and aired the 8am hour of the event live on WRAL-TV. Then 1 hour portion of the program aired again on FOX 50 at noon.
The event is now available to view on WRAL.com:
SLIDESHOW: 37th Annual Martin Luther King Interfaith Prayer Breakfast