MLK Prayer Breakfast returns to the Benton, hundreds attend to honor King’s legacy

More than 800 people came together at the Benton Convention Center on MLK Day, Jan. 16, to reflect on King’s legacy. 

MLK Prayer Breakfast returns to the Benton, hundreds attend to honor King’s legacy
January 20
06:49 2023

After being held virtually for the last two years due to the pandemic, The Chronicle’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast returned in grand fashion on Monday morning. More than 800 people came together at the Benton Convention Center on MLK Day, Jan. 16, to reflect on King’s legacy. 

For the past 22 years the breakfast, which focuses on advancing King’s dream of racial harmony and equity, has kicked off King Day celebrations throughout the city. This year’s event was filled with powerful affirmations and songs. 

Willie Mason & Friends provided the soundtrack for the event. Several speakers, including Mayor Allen Joines, Mayor Pro Tem. Denise Adams, Sen. Paul Lowe, and Dr. Antonia Monk Richburg, the first Black woman to serve as CEO of the United Way of Forsyth County, and others took to the stage to reflect on King’s legacy and what the fight for his legacy looks like in 2023. 

Joines said King’s message of peace, equality, and justice are even more relevant today than they were at the height of the civil rights movement. He went on to discuss programs and initiatives the City has put in place to address poverty and inequality, such as the free college program and raising the city’s minimum wage.  

“We can always remember what Dr. King said, ‘It’s always the right time to do the right thing,’”Joines said. “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”

The keynote address was delivered by Chris Rey, international president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and former mayor of Spring Lake. 

During his address Rey discussed King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was delivered during the historic March on Washington in 1963, and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. He said both events helped shape American history and both events signify a  crossroads. 

Rey stated, “Today we’re at a crossroads of freedom and equality.” He said although there is still hate and discrimination in the world, we can move forward if we come together as a state and a nation. 

“If we truly commit ourselves to equity and move past racism, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that we cannot accomplish in this human race,” Rey said. “The only way that we can make sure that the dream continues to live is to make sure that we are all connected.” 

During his address Rey also announced his intention to run for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. 

A native of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, by way of Spring Lake, Rey graduated high school as a track and field All-American and earned a full athletic scholarship to East Carolina State University. While at ECSU, Rey was a charter member of the Black Student Union and the NAACP chapter on campus. 

In 2008 Rey was elected as the youngest member of the Virginia delegation to the United States Electoral College, where he officially cast the ballot to elect the president and vice president of the United States. In 2011 Rey was the youngest person ever elected to serve as mayor of Spring Lake, where he served three terms. 

A retired veteran with 22 years of combined active and national guard service, Rey is also founder and CEO of RL9 Group, Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on healthcare compliance, cyber security, business development, and diversity, equity and inclusion. He is also founder of HBCU Internship Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing internship opportunities to HBCU students around the world.

Clips from Rey’s keynote address and other highlights from the breakfast can be viewed on The Chronicle’s Facebook page. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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