Hundreds attend 31st annual MLK Breakfast

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Source: Hundreds of people packed the Prime Osborn Convention Center Friday for the 31st Annual MLK Jr. Breakfast. It’s a time to honor th...

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Hundreds of people packed the Prime Osborn Convention Center Friday for the 31st Annual MLK Jr. Breakfast. It’s a time to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.America’s first African-American female combat pilot, Vernice “Flygirl’ Armour, was the keynote speaker at the event. She sent a powerful message about ‘getting gutsy’ and serving the community. Dr. King- he was the epitome of seizing the opportunity. Not even seizing- making the opportunity. Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. I mean that’s what it’s all about, service,” said Armour.It’s no easy task but Armour said sometimes you have to get gutsy and take action. “You have got to be willing to get uncomfortable,” said Armour.Mayor Lenny Curry was also at the event. At the podium, he said every citizen, in every zip code, should have the opportunity to not only live, but to thrive.”This is a struggle, this is a lofty goal, this is the pursuit of perfection and the only way we get there is to pursue it every day. One city, one Jacksonville is a lofty vision- an ideal for which I will always reach,” said Curry.Pat Felder has attended the breakfast ever since it started 31 years ago. This year, she noticed some divide in the midst of controversy. “This building will usually be packed. You can’t hardly find a seat. Normally it is just running over with people. With the problem we’re having in the community, it needs to be packed, we need to come together,” said Felder.This year, 1,400 people were in attendance- that’s 200 more attendees than last year- despite controversy after two local civil rights groups pulled out of the event last November.The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference have been a part of Jacksonville’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast for decades.Both groups announced they wouldn’t be a part of the event this year.The organizations sent a joint letter to Mayor Lenny Curry in November stating “For our organizations to participate in this event without a real seat at the table is disrespectful to the memory” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.The SCLC board chair said it’s been too long for them to be seen but not heard.”We have not been included in the planning of the breakfast that we started some 31 years ago and that is wrong, so we’re not going to be putting up with anymore,” said Isaiah Rumlin, President of the NAACP Jacksonville branch.Rumlin admits the organizations have had a presence but not to the point where any suggestions involving things like program format or speakers have made a difference.

“We would go downtown to have a meeting, everything would be already planned. All they wanted us to do was sign off on whatever was going to happen,” said Rumlin.

The following statement was sent to News4Jax by the city:”The mayor greatly values and supports this annual observance, which reflects and celebrates the spirit of his administration – One City. One Jacksonville. In an effort to build on these values and promote greater inclusiveness and representation of diverse communities, the mayor commissioned a Host Committee last November to help plan the event. –Marsha Oliver, Director, Public Affairs”The city also noted that members of both organizations were invited to participate in the committee.Looking ahead, Felder hopes the community moves closer to the mayor’s vision of One City, One Jacksonville.
Source: News 4 Jax

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