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.