Dawn Porter

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Press release from the Martin Luther King Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, Inc., shared Jan. 8:

MLK Prayer Breakfast features award-winning filmmaker

Dawn Porter, director and producer of the award-winning film Gideon’s Army, will be a keynote speaker at the 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast, which be held Saturday at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Photo courtesy of the MLK Association.

On Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, Asheville and Buncombe County will celebrate the community’s 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast. The breakfast will be held at 8:30 a.m. in the grand ballroom of the Omni Grove Park Inn. Free parking on the grounds of the inn will be available, as will some spaces in the parking garage.

Travis Williams, who is featured in the documentary Gideon’s Army, will be a keynote speaker at the 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast. Photo courtesy of the MLK Association.

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Keynote speakers for the gathering will be a remarkable pair of activists: attorney and filmmaker Dawn Porter, director and producer of the award-winning film Gideon’s Army; and one of the dedicated public defenders featured in her documentary, attorney Travis Williams of Gainesville, Ga.

The film follows three public defenders in the Deep South during their daily mission to counsel hundreds of defendants through the strained criminal justice system. Through their work every day, Porter and Williams help bring our society ever closer to fulfilling the ideals and philosophy espoused by Dr. King.

Through a collaboration with UNC Asheville, Gideon’s Army will be screened in a free public showing the evening before the breakfast. The screening, followed by a question-and-answer session with Porter and Williams, will be held Friday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at Lipinsky Auditorium at UNC Asheville.

Tickets to the breakfast are $30 in advance, $35 for patrons and $15 for youth 12 and under. Tickets are available online at www.mlkasheville.org or by calling 828-335-6896. For more information about the breakfast, please call MLK Association chair Oralene Simmons at 828-281-1624.

In addition to the breakfast and the free film screening, the MLK weekend will include a peace march and rally on Monday, Jan. 20, beginning at St. James AME Church at 11:30 a.m. followed by the march to City-County Plaza at noon. A candlelight ceremony honoring the recipient of the 2014 Martin Luther King award will be held at Nazareth First Baptist Church at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20. All events other than the breakfast are free. For information about the Candlelight Service, contact chair Karen Cowan at 828-768-8599 or karen@brandinichole.org.

Theme of the breakfast

In June of 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the students and faculty at Oberlin College. He titled his address, “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” pointing out that the lesson of Washington Irving’s tale of Rip Van Winkle was that Rip, having slept through the American Revolution, awoke “completely lost; he knew not who he was.” In the midst of the Civil Right revolution of the 1960s, Dr. King emphasized the need to stay vigilant so as “to achieve the proper mental attitudes and responses that the new situation demands.”

In his commencement address Dr. King highlighted three challenges:
•     “to achieve a world perspective” because “all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality;”
•     “to work passionately and unrelentingly to get rid of racial injustice in all its dimensions” and to promote “economic justice;” and
•     to “get rid of violence, hatred, and war.”

Nearly five decades later, we still must remain vigilant as we face new assaults. The NC legislature’s initiatives to curtail voting rights and shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class and poor have been the driving force behind the state’s Moral Monday protests. Their message echoes Dr. King’s call to “remain awake” to the changes arising around us—changes that threaten the great revolution Dr. King lived and died for.

2014 MLK weekend events

Friday, Jan.17 – 7 p.m.

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Free public screening of the Sundance-award-winning film Gideon’s Army at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium, followed by a question-and–answer session with the filmmakers.

Saturday, Jan. 18 – 8 a.m.

The 33rd Annual Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn at 8:30 a.m. (doors open at 8:00 a.m. The program features filmmaker Dawn Porter, producer-director of Gideon’s Army, and Travis Williams, a public defender featured in the film. Also interfaith prayers, choir music, recognition of award nominees, and a classic breakfast. Tickets are $25.00 for adults, $15.00 for youth and $35.00 for patrons. Tickets will be available in advance and at the door (after Jan. 1, adult tickets are $30), and can be purchased online at www.mlkasheville.org.

Monday, Jan. 20 – 11:30 a.m.

The Annual Peace March and Rally will begin at noon at St. James A.M.E. Church on the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Hildebrand Street. Marchers will meet at the church at 11:30 a.m. for a brief program before marching to City-County Plaza for a rally program of songs and speeches. Please bring a nonperishable food item for Manna Food Bank.

Monday, Jan. 20 – 6 p.m.

The annual candle-lighting ceremony in remembrance of the less fortunate and as a reminder of the need to continue working to combat injustice. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Adult award will be presented to an adult for their outstanding work in the community. Guest speaker is Rev. Brian Combs from the Haywood Street Congregation and the Welcome Table.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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