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The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. lives on in Wilson with the 25th annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast, but organizers have made a slight change in that no tickets will be sold at the door.
Wilson Human Relations Director Renee Smith said typically 350 to 400 people attend the breakfast, but having attendees purchase tickets at the door creates a catering complication, so the decision was to request all tickets be bought by Jan. 16.
The $10 tickets are available at the human relations office at Wilson City Hall, the Arts Council of Wilson box office, the Darden Alumni Center, Community Hair Cuts and Beauty Salon as well as from members of the Wilson Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. For more information, call 252-399-2309.
“The goal of the breakfast is to kick off the MLK Jr. holiday celebration,” Smith said. “The breakfast is to celebrate and remember the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr.
“It’s also important for our children to see the community coming together as a whole and continuing the dream of equality, unity and service.”
The event will start at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 21 at the Darden Alumni Center with a breakfast, entertainment from The Barnes Project and Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education choir as well as a keynote speech from chaplain Wallace Allen.
Allen serves as an outpatient chaplain for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs centers in Greenville, Raleigh and Morehead City. The Roxboro native spent 14 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and served as a pastor of a Missionary Baptist church in Virginia before moving back to North Carolina and joining the National Guard, where he deployed to Korea, Germany and Kuwait before enduring a back injury while in Iraq.
The breakfast also will include recognition of area middle school students who participated in an essay contest with the theme: “What is your dream on continuing to grow and enhance cultural diversity in the Wilson community?” Smith said the top three participants receive savings bonds and the winner reads his or her submission.
Donations received during the breakfast will go toward scholarships for area high-schoolers with two $1,000 scholarships awarded last year thanks to the community support. Smith said she hopes one of those winners will attend and speak about how the scholarship has helped the winner work toward his or her dreams.
The breakfast is a popular local celebration of the civil rights leader, but it is an undertaking to put together.
“The commission is comprised of individuals who volunteer their time and energy and feel it is important to continuing hosting the breakfast each year,” Smith said. “The day is indeed ‘a day on, not a day off.’ After a great breakfast and a great guest speaker, we encourage the community to leave and go back into the community to provide some type of service on that day.”
A collaborative effort will allow Wilson youth and adults to receive a free pair of shoes as part of the “Walk Like the King” shoe giveaway.
The N.C. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission is partnering with the Wilson County Department of Social Services, The Team Power Foundation and WideAwake Da Beat Radio to give shoes of all sizes to those in need from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 21 at St. John AME Zion Church, 119 Pender St. N. Each person will receive one pair of shoes.
“The purpose is to encourage people to ‘walk’ like Dr. King who walked/marched to change the world about treating everyone with equality,” state MLK Commissioner Jacquie Jeffers said in a news release. “Giving away free, new summer shoes will encourage people to walk with pride like Dr. King. It is a way to start off the summer with new footwear.”