“The Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Committee believes we still have time to choose love. And we still have time to choose the Triangle community.”
– Rev. William Lucas, Chairman, Triangle MLK Committee
Weather and COVID wreaked havoc with the 42nd Annual Martin Luther King Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, but the 2022 edition of the event went on despite challenges on Monday, January 17. The breakfast was scheduled to run on WRAL-TV at 8am, but the station needed to stay with winter weather coverage due to the icy road conditions. The one-hour broadcast moved to 2pm, and the breakfast live streamed in its entirety on the Triangle MLK Committee’s YouTube channel at the original 7am time.
Capitol Broadcasting Company has proudly sponsored the prayer breakfast for 36 years and for over a decade has also produced a portion of the program to air on television. WRAL-TV Anchor Gerald Owens served as emcee for the 2022 event.
“America needs a Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said Rev. William Lucas, the chairman of the Triangle MLK Committee, as he opened the program. “North Carolina needs a Martin Luther King Day. The Triangle needs a Martin Luther King Day. And we need a Martin Luther King Day. A day to glean the best from around us but also to glean the best from within us.”
A variety of local religious leaders from various faiths brought prayers during the annual event, and the Mayors surrounding cities shared words as well.
“Building community in this social distancing culture does present challenges but should not stop people from wanting to build,” said Imani Simmons, a freshman at NC Central University, who brought the Youth Message. “It simply means we must think outside the box. We have to do more than just bring people together. We must listen with empathy and work as a collective.”
An graduate of Southeast Raleigh High School, Simmons is an alumni member of the Lightner YMCA Achievers Program. She spoke about community in her essay.
“Change is bound to happen but with change it’s important to remember that it is our responsibility to rise higher by gently teaching our new neighbors, respectfully reminding them the spirit of community,” she said. “We must express love to those who may not look like us, hold the same values or religion.”
“Building a beloved community takes trust and time. Trust is the bond that makes a neighborhood community.”
– Imani Simmons, NC Central University freshman
The program included musical selections from outreach quartet the United Strings of Color and Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
United Strings of Color performed “Shaker” by Black Violins, an arrangement of the Quaker hymn “Simple Gifts.” Freelon sang the 1965-released “What The World Needs Now is Love.”
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, brought the keynote. She is the first female elected to episcopal office in the more than two-decades-old AME Church and is the first female to serve as President of the Council of Bishops and President of the General Board.
She quoted Dr. King but then said, “We must do more, beloved, however, than remember what he said.”
She spoke of the stand King took and continued, “We must stop playing with this holiday…more than lip-service once a year to a man and a movement…Justice has never been a one and done thing.”
McKenzie challenged viewers saying, “We must remind ourselves of the potential and possibility that we are the ones who are to shift paradigm. We are the ones that are called to change the world, every day…We have to do more than the work that makes us feel good, we have to do the work that is good.”
A key focus in her address was courage.
“You cannot live without courage,” said McKenzie. “It is necessary…We need to pivot to an uncommon courage…We need more people with uncommon courage.”
She encouraged, “that you will see each day as a challenge that you’re up for the task…the uncommon courage to shift priorities for real, for real, for real, and bring about not just a new normal but a better tomorrow for everyone.”