Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated at annual prayer breakfast in Statesville
BY KARISSA MILLER
The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were celebrated Monday morning at the Statesville Civic Center in a room filled with people of all faiths and backgrounds.
The crowd was gathered for the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Prayer Breakfast, which was part of Statesville’s weekend-long celebration.
Musical performances by the MLK Celebration Choir and special guest speakers brought King’s message and this year’s theme, “Together we can be the dream,” to life.
Niyin Miller, a Pfeiffer University student and West Iredell High School graduate, welcomed the large crowd. He said it was a day to celebrate Dr. King, who was committed to achieving equality in a peaceful way.
He shared some facts that he learned about the civil rights leader, including that Dr. King was the first African-American named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year.”
In closing, he said, “My urge to each and every one of you is to continue to be there for one another. Continue to be an active member of our society. Continue to be lifelong learners.”
Impact Church pastor Jason Davis delivered the keynote address and spoke about the foundation of Dr. King’s inspiration and motivation.
“It was well publicized that he had influence from Gandhi and others that influenced in him in nonviolence. The greatest influence as a Baptist preacher was this Jewish rabbi born in Nazareth,” Davis said.
The pastor talked about Jesus being asked what is the greatest commandment included in Matthew 22.
“He said, ‘The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
Jesus didn’t stop that answer there, adding “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“They expected him to answer with one commandment, but he answered with two,” Davis explained. “Then he ended it with this statement, ‘This is the greatest commandment.’ ”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received a majority of his inspiration from Jesus. Once you read through Dr. King’s letters and sermons, you will draw those conclusions, he said.
“That man Jesus was more than a teacher or rabbi, but was his savior. It was the one he received his instructions and marching orders from. Although he had a million reasons to despise and have malice in his heart, he chose to believe and live the words of Jesus,” Davis said.
Davis said that he’s learned through 20 years of pastoral experience that “most people who hate others, hate the person in the mirror first.”
“When you despise the person in the mirror, you start despising the people around you. When you start despising the image you are made in, then you start despising the one who made you in his image,” Davis said.
Those who see themselves as created in the image and likeness of God, he said, have dignity, value and purpose.
“You cannot lift up your hand in worship and despise someone that is your neighbor,” he said.
During the ceremony, Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh issued and read a proclamation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“What I’ve learned is if I can make myself a better version of myself tomorrow than I was today then we will accomplish the dream,” Kutteh said.
He encouraged all attendees to make themselves the best version of themselves every day.