By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
For two decades, the kickoff event for the celebration of Martin Luther King day has been the early morning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in Midwest City. The public is once again invited to join community leaders and admirers of Dr. King, of all faiths and strata of society for a meal and an uplifting program to honor the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The event begins at 7 a.m. Monday. January 16 at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel-Reed Conference Center, 5750 Will Rogers Road.
The Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Committee is chaired this year by Vivian Woodward, who says the group has lined up an outstanding program to celebrate this 20th Anniversary.
The committee works to obtain monetary support from sponsors to provide the breakfast event in as cost effective a manner as possible to attendees, and to support activities such as scholarship campaigns, educational programs and community service awards.
The brainchild of the former Midwest City Police Chief Thomas Michael Jahn, the Prayer Breakfast was first held in 1996. It now draws crowds of 450 to 500 participants annually.
This year’s theme is “Tapestry of Unity”, indicating the rich beauty and cohesion of a society interwoven with the strengths, resources, backgrounds and stories of all of the people included.
Special guest speakers will be Oklahoma Representative Gary W. Banz and Senator Connie Johnson.
As a term-limited legislator, Representative Banz completed his 12th and final legislative session in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in November 2016. He represented portions of east Midwest City, Nicoma Park, Choctaw, Harrah, and southeast Oklahoma County. Banz served in several legislative leadership roles, and in 2009 co-founded Oklahoma Honor Flights to escort senior veterans to Washington, D.C.
Former Senator Johnson recently retired after 33 years in the Oklahoma State Senate, representing Oklahoma City’s predominantly African American “Eastside.” Johnson led the way on causes such as health and human services, issues that disproportionately affect the economic and social well-being of the poor, minorities, women, children and people with disabilities. She also served on several legislative committees, was the author of numerous criminal justice reform proposals, as well as programs to assist the families and children of incarcerated parents.
“Ms. Anice Young will do a mini concert, officer Johnathan Williams will render a MLK speech, Ms Taylor Christmon will sing the Negro National anthem, and OK3 will perform the National anthem,” said Woodward. Tickets for the 20th Annual Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Prayer Breakfast tickets are $10 each, and are available from the Midwest City Community Center, 200 N Midwest Boulevard. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or from Prosperity Real Estate by calling 405-623-1957. Organizers say it is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance, as the event is sometimes sold out prior to the event.
“More than 500 people attend the annual MWC MLK Breakfast to be inspired by keynote speakers, youth presenters, singers and musicians,” said Nathanial Batchelder, director of the Oklahoma City Peace House who attends each year.
For more information, or to purchase table sponsorships, contact committee chairperson Vivian Woodward at 405-623-1957. For event updates, visit the MLK Prayer Breakfast Facebook page.