MLK activities revive civil-rights focus

The 27th Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Prayer Breakfast will fill the Grand Ballroom of the Grove Park Inn on Saturday, Jan. 19, with music, a special award presentation and a keynote address by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit.

The popular breakfast, sponsored by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County, is one of several events celebrating the legacy of the civil-rights leader. First held in 1982 at the Montford Community Center, the breakfast event grew to fill the exhibition level of the Asheville Civic Center and then moved to the 1,200-seat banquet hall at the GPI in 2002.

Kilpatrick, heralded in national press for Detroit’s largest residential, commercial and development boom in 50 years, became the youngest mayor of any major American city at the age of 31 in 2002 and was reelected in 2006. Joining him on the Saturday-morning roster will be the Prodigal Sons, a musical ensemble of inmates from the Buncombe County Correctional Center; their inclusion is a nod to King’s tradition of advocacy for improvements in the criminal-justice system. “Bunny” Clyde, lead sax for the Detroit group The Dramatics, will also provide a special musical tribute at the breakfast.

This year’s celebration forgoes its annual humanitarian award for a special dedication in memory of Bill Fulp, a founding member of the MLK Association who died last year. According to Orelene Graves-Simmons, chair of the association, Sulp was a longtime Asheville educator who served as assistant principal at Asheville High School for a number of years, and was also a former employee with Asheville’s Parks & Recreation Department.

“In these two roles,” says Graves-Simmons, “he seems to have been a peacemaker. Because of his hard, dedicated work with the [MLK] committee and in the community, we thought it was very fitting if we did the program in his memory and recognized his loving family.” Some 20 family members, she added, plan to be in attendance for the posthumous award.

Local activities to recognize MLK’s legacy include:

Youth Celebration and Award Ceremony: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 4 p.m. at Diana Wortham Theatre—a program of song, story, drama and art for school-age youth. Presentation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Award will be made to outstanding students.

Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Prayer Breakfast: Saturday, Jan. 19, 8:30 a.m., Grove Park Inn, Grand Ballroom; tickets available at the door, $30/patrons (reserved seating), $20/adults; $14/children (12 and under).

Annual Peace Walk: Monday, Jan. 21, starting at St. James Church on Martin Luther King Drive and Hilderbrand Street at 11:30 a.m. and marching to City/County Plaza for a noon program of music, poetry and speeches.

Candlelight Service and Presentation of Awards: Monday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m. at Nazareeth First Baptist Church, Pine Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Presentation of MLK adult award and candle-lighting ceremony in remembrance of the less fortunate.

For further information, call 281-1624.


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3 thoughts on “MLK activities revive civil-rights focus

  1. Richard Bernier

    This is from Francis Rice: I belive this will provide the insight that should be examined into.


    As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the month of his birth, let us also pause to remember the indignities he endured, who caused his suffering – the Democrats – and how.

    Character assassination. That’s the tactic used by Democrats in the 1960’s to discredit Dr. King, a Republican who was fighting the Democrats and trying to stop them from denying civil rights to blacks.

    The relentless disparagement of Dr. King by Democrats led to his being physically assaulted and ultimately to his tragic death.

    In March of 1968, while referring to Dr. King’s leaving Memphis, Tennessee after riots broke out where a teenager was killed, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, called Dr. King a “trouble-maker” who starts trouble, but runs like a coward after trouble is ignited. A few weeks later, Dr. King returned to Memphis and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

    Prior to his death, Democrats bombed Dr. King’s home several times. The scurrilous efforts by the Democrats to harm Dr. King included spreading rumors that he was a Communist and accusing him of being a womanizer and a plagiarist.

    An egregious act against Dr. King occurred on October 10, 1963. With the approval of Democrat President John F. Kennedy, Democrat Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy – President Kennedy’s brother – authorized the wiretapping of Dr.

    King’s telephone by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Wiretaps were placed by the FBI on the telephones in Dr. King’s home and office. The FBI also bugged Dr. King’s hotel rooms when he traveled around the country.

    The trigger for this unsavory wiretapping was apparently Dr. Kings’ criticism of the Kennedy Administration, according to the author David Garrow in his book, Bearing the Cross. The justification given by the Kennedy Administration publicly was that two of Dr. King’s associates, including David Levinson, had ended their association with the Communist Party in order to work undercover and influence Dr. King. However, after years of continuous and extensive wiretapping, the FBI found no direct links of Dr. King to the Communist Party.

    The unrelenting efforts by Democrats to tarnish Dr. King’s reputation continued for years after his death.

    To his credit, Republican President Ronald Reagan ignored the Democrats’ smear campaign and made Dr. King’s birthday a holiday. Under President George W. Bush, a memorial to Dr. King is being built in Washington, DC.

    Today, while professing to revere Dr. King, Democrats are still trying to sully his image by making remarks that diminish his civil rights achievements and continuing to claim that Dr. King embraced Communism – a system that is secularist and socialist.

    In reality, Dr. King was a Christian who held deeply religious beliefs and was guided by his faith and his Republican Party principles in his struggle to gain equality for blacks. He did not embrace the type of socialist, secularist agenda that is promoted by the Democratic Party today, which includes fostering dependency on welfare that breaks up families, supporting same-sex marriage and banning God from the public square.

    An understanding of who the real Dr. King was can be gained from a glimpse of Dr. King as a young man who participated in an oratorical contest when he was 14 years old. The title of his speech was “The Negro and the Constitution” which had the following sentences: “We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance…We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flout the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule….”

    If Dr. King were still alive, he would be slandered by Democrats in the same way that they smeared him in the 1960’s and demean all black Republicans today.

  2. Richard,

    I think you are delusional. King was a commie leftist who believed in silly things like non-violence and “dedicating (his) life to ending the Vietnam War”.

  3. …Okay, i’m going to leave you alone after this, but…

    “Prior to his death, Democrats bombed Dr. King’s home several times. The scurrilous efforts by the Democrats to harm Dr. King included spreading rumors that he was a Communist and accusing him of being a womanizer and a plagiarist. ”

    So, did these “Democrats” leave a calling card stating something to the effect of “From the Democratic Party”? Seems a bit unsubstantiated, like many of these assertions of Francis rice who you quote.

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