Unity Breakfast a special event for many

Published 2:16 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

It’s time for the Martin and Coretta King Beloved Community Unity Breakfast again. The name is way too long to repeat. We just call it the “Unity Breakfast.”

However, we can never forget the spirit generated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King in their lifetimes. Each spirit was powerful in its own right, but their spirits were uniquely powerful together. That is why we have the Martin and Coretta King Beloved Community Unity Breakfast each year.

With 40-50 events squeezed into four days of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, many events get lost to the broader public.  I do not want the Beloved Community Unity Breakfast to get lost in this thicket of good activity. It is too central to the spirit of the whole Bridge Crossing Jubilee. I don’t remember how long we have been holding the Unity Breakfast.

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I asked Dr. James Mitchell, president of Wallace Community College Selma.  He could not remember either. Dr. Mitchell is a moving force in the Unity Breakfast. Without Dr. Mitchell and Wallace Community College, the Unity Breakfast would not be the great event it is today.

While I cannot remember the precise year the Unity Breakfast started, I do remember the year that it became a “must experience event.” The year was 2007. The 2008 presidential race had already picked up steam.  We invited U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton to speak at the Unity Breakfast, and she declined.  Then we invited a young U.S. Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. He accepted and went on to become President of the United States of America.

It’s really ironic because after Sen. Obama accepted our invitation, Sen. Clinton had a change of heart and asked to be reconsidered. We invited her to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee but not to speak at the breakfast. She came, spoke at the First Baptist Church and marched across the bridge on Bloody Sunday.

I also recall that President Bill Clinton helped make the whole Bridge Crossing Jubilee into a “must experience event.” He made the pilgrimage to Selma as sitting president in the year 2000. The Jubilee was already big, but it truly became a national and international event with President Clinton’s visit.

In 2015 sitting President Obama and former President George W. Bush came to the Jubilee. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California will be the keynote speaker at the Unity Breakfast this year.  Could this be a repeat of the 2007 moment when Senator Barack Obama was here? Can lightning strike twice? I don’t know what will happen, but look out for the lightning.

Sen. Kamala Harris is not an announced candidate for the presidency. I think she shies away from any reference to such talk. However, many think that she may well be a formidable candidate for the 2020 presidential election. It was historical in 2007 to see Senator Barack Obama at the Unity Breakfast.

I am certain that many would want to be present if history repeats itself. For some, the highlight of the breakfast will be Sen. Kamala Harris. However, the highlight of the breakfast for many will be Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Besides Waters and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, we will have U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and Congresswoman Terri Sewell speaking and perhaps also Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Many other political leaders will be there. Some events are important because they touch a few profoundly.  Other events are important because they touched many broadly.  The Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast and the Bridge Crossing Jubilee touch so many profoundly.