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The annual MLK Prayer Breakfast in Black Mountain provides an opportunity for the Swannanoa Valley community to come together for food, music, a keynote address and conversation. The 26th annual breakfast will be 9-11 a.m. Feb. 6 at Camp Dorothy Walls on Cragmont Road. It is hosted by the Swannanoa Valley Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Corporation.

Keynote speaker this year will be Steve Crump, reporter/anchor for WBTV in Charlotte. Crump has produced more than 20 documentary films and been nationally recognized by organizations such as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

The local MLK corporation was conceived in 1990 when Black Mountain resident Lib Harper and then-mayor Carl Bartlett had the idea for an organization to honor the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They enlisted supporters, began planning, and held the first prayer breakfast Jan. 12, 1991 at Ridgecrest Conference Center to celebrate and recognize King on his birthday.

The purpose of the MLK organization is to:

  • Present King’s life and teachings
  • Celebrate and recognize King’s birthday with an annual public event
  • Establish a fund for Swannanoa Valley schools to be used by qualifying students
  • Facilitate community events and leadership opportunities for Swannanoa Valley citizens
  • Provide a forum where the public can get information and teachings on social and diversity issues
  • Provide a forum for individuals and community mediation and facilitation
  • Promote the development of character, integrity, leadership and scholarship of area young people

Annually the scholarship fund offers a limited number of scholarships and financial aid to graduating high school seniors in the Swannanoa Valley planning to enroll on a full-time basis in a two- or four-year college program. A total of $12,000 was awarded for the 2015-16 school year.

The organization has endorsed the Dialogue on Race, a series of community dialogues designed to promote frank, honest communication among people of different races. It has also cosponsored the YWCA's annual Stand Against Racism, including a day-long program for high school and college students. In addition, last August the group participated in the 50th anniversary of King's address to the Christian Action Conference at Montreat Conference Center.

The organization invites the public’s support of its work through donations (Patron $30-$99, Sponsor $100-$499, Benefactor $500 and above). Special scholarship fund donations are also accepted. All donations may be sent to SVMLK, P.O. Box 1613, Black Mountain, NC 28711 or to svmlk.com.

Tickets for the prayer breakfast - $15 adults, $6 children 3 to 12 years old - are available at the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce, from any MLK board member, at svmlk.org and at the door.

Board of directors include Marrion Ward, president; Sheila Showers, vice president; George Michie, corresponding secretary; Joan Brown, scholarship chair; Sylvia Carpenter and Lillian Logan, breakfast chairs; Rosa Hilbert, program chair; Diane Hutchins, co-treasurer; and Rochelle Daniel, Dr. Obie Ford, III, Judy Fore, Beverly Hausley, Diane Hutchins, Elizabeth Jones, Roberta Madden, Lavern Stafford and Tykara Young.

An additional event related to the MLK organization will occur Feb. 13 at Ten Thousand Villages in Montreat. Beginning at 11 a.m., a percentage of sales will be donated to the MLK scholarship fund.

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