Capitol Broadcasting continued a decades-long commitment to celebrating an historic leader as presenting sponsor of the 44th Annual Martin Luther King Triangle Interfaith Prayer Breakfast. Highlighting this year’s theme, “It Starts with Me: Creating a Beloved Community,” the event took place at the Sheraton Imperial in Research Triangle Park on Monday, January 15, 2024.
The morning echoed the day’s theme with a call to action from the youth speaker to the keynote, The Very Rev Canon Sandye A. Wilson, Interim Dean of All Saints in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
The ballroom at the Sheraton Imperial was filled to capacity with early risers eager to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King together. Many more watched from home as WRAL-TV broadcast the second hour of the event live.
WRAL-TV Anchor Gerald Owens served as emcee.
“While this event centers on Dr. King’s legacy, it’s also a catalyst for each of us to recommit ourselves to doing the work to build a safer and more just society, absent of poverty, hunger and hate,” said Owens as he opened the live broadcast portion of the program.
In the keynote, Wilson charged the crowd not to think about Martin Luther King only once per year by allowing him to sit on a shelf for 364 days collecting dust.
She addressed the theme of this year’s celebration, “We are called to go against the grain of society. We are called to risk something big for something good.”
“It starts with me. It starts with each one of us. Let us walk the talk.”
Monsignor Joseph Ntuwa, Catholic Diocese of Raleigh
Wilson continued, “Too many of us want someone else to create the beloved community so that they can enjoy the benefits of our hard work… God has work for us to do. As Dr. King said, ‘Everybody can be great because everybody can serve’.”
Wilson again echoed the charge that “God has work for us to do,” adding, “Each of us can bring our best selves to this work.”
“This world is desperately in need of love,” she said. “There is evil around us but there’s also so much good.”
In the first half of the program Wakefield High School junior Blake Howard delivered the Special Youth Moment as the annual essay contest winner.
“What can a teenager like me do?” she asked. “Get involved. As teens we are the future.”
Howard talked about volunteering, saying that, “Martin Luther King urged people to seek opportunities to serve others.”
And she charged the crowd to “Be kind. Wouldn’t we all enjoy our world a little more if we were kinder…Kindness is love and respect…and can build a bridge between adults and teens.”
“A movement is always done in community. The community needs us fully engaged.”
The Very Rev. Canon Sandye A. Wilson
The event also included musical selections from National Recording Artists Wess Morgan and Kim Person, as well as a plethora of prayers from local clergy, recording greetings from the mayors of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and a message from the youth essay winner.
Monsignor Joseph Ntuwa of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh opened the prayers by answering the question, “Why We Do This?”
“IT’s not longer a choice between violence and nonviolence,” said Ntuwa. “IT’s nonviolence or nonexistence. Dr. King said active nonviolence is much more than a tactic or strategy, it’s a way of life,” he said. “It starts with me. It starts with each one of us. Let us walk the talk.”
“Every individual’s actions leave a stamp upon humanity,” said Rabbi Lucy Dinner as she delivered the Prayer for Justice and Peace.
Creighton Blackwell of Coastal Credit Union presented the annual King Leader Award grant of $7,500 and the John Lewis Student Activist Award grant of $500 near the conclusion of the breakfast. For the first time a high school student was a recipient of the John Lewis Student Activist Award. Aubrey Spritzer, a junior at Riverside High School, and Alexis Thompson, a senior at Campbell University, both won the honor. Delphine Sellars, Executive Director of Urban Community Agrinomics in Durham won the King Leader Award.
WRAL-TV presented the 8am hour of the program as a live broadcast on the station. WRAL.com livestreamed the event in its entirety.
In case you missed or would like to watch again, video excerpts, as well as the event in its entirety, are located on WRAL.com:
“Wouldn’t we all enjoy our world a little more if we were kinder?”
Blake Howard, Junior at Wakefield High School