King Unity Prayer Breakfast celebrates 20 years

Published 5:07 pm Monday, January 9, 2023

Citizens from all walks of life will gather at the E.E. Waddell Center in Albemarle Saturday morning to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The guest speaker will be Rev. Charles Barrino, the new pastor at Saints Delight Church in Albemarle.

Albemarle City Councilman Dexter Townsend said the annual breakfast is a means “for Stanly County citizens to celebrate and commemorate Dr. King’s life in a formal capacity followed by the efforts of the local NAACP and other citizens successfully encouraging the Stanly County Commissioners to recognize Dr. King’s holiday.”

Townsend said Stanly was one of a few counties in North Carolina 22 years ago which recognized Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday.

“The efforts were controversial as there were attempts to merge Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday with Gen. Robert E. Lee which brought about many tense meetings and protests,” Townsend said.

The local event grew, he added, “to a point where we as a community have embraced a sense of a more diverse and unified community as it provides an opportunity for local citizens from every avenue in life, regardless of demographics, social or economic status, to fellowship together for a common cause which collectively improves our quality of life.”

Townsend said events like the prayer breakfast are important to continue for the younger generation, adding young folks “need to learn that Dr. King’s efforts were more than just providing them a day out of school or work. We hope that patrons of such MLK events abroad adopt the teachings of Dr. King and adapt them into our everyday lives, things for which Dr. King was willing to give his life.

“We can’t take for granted. Therefore it is the reason organizations such as the NAACP work to ensure that every person, regardless of color, has a fair opportunity free from inequality and discrimination.”

Tym Scott, president of the Stanly County chapter of the NAACP, said events like Saturday’s are important.

“We still have got a long way to go. We’ve come a long way through all this but we still have a long way to go. We can actually see the end coming, but it’s not here,” Scott said. “It’s important we keep the dream alive, that we pass it on to our children so they pass it on to their children.”

Scott said it is important for children to know “what history is all about and how people have fought for the freedom and the things they have today. They were not given anything like most kids are today…if we keep the dream alive, we keep all of us together. Not just Black people, white people, Asians, Africans or anybody…it’s trying to get on the same page and make this world a better place.”

He said the breakfast “was a way to bring us all together in the community to show everybody is equal. Everybody is somebody. That’s what it’s all about… It’s being there, the friendship, the camaraderie, the love we have for one another.”

Scott also said if people did not have a ticket to the breakfast, “we will get you a ticket if you want to be a part of it.”

Brenda Stanback, a member of the local NAACP, said one reason the unity prayer breakfast has lasted 20 years is because it is needed.

“It’s a day that brings together all races, all political groups, all religious denominations, the old, the young and the in-betweens together,” Stanback said.

“Everyone in attendance knows why they are there. For the first time, we are unified. Whatever disagreements or issues we have are left at the door. The gathering is to honor Dr. King and what he stood for, to confirm that we can unify as a county if only for a few hours. That in itself is a milestone.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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