Photo and story by KeWana McCallum / Contributing Writer
The Murfreesboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast celebration on Saturday in the Tennessee Room of the James Union building. Guest speakers included Fox 17 news reporter Justin McFarland, Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland, MTSU President Sidney McPhee, Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess, Vice President of Global Marketing for Spalding Kenyatta Bynoe, Murfreesboro pastors Albert Richardson Jr. and David Suttles and NAACP Murfreesboro Branch President Katie Wilson.
This event is hosted annually in remembrance of King and all his accomplishments. Recipients of the Hero of Humanitarian Award are also named at the event. The award was inspired by Jerry Anderson, a professional football player who lost his life in 1989 while rescuing two children from drowning in Murfreesboro, and is given to individuals or organizations for philanthropic work and good deeds.
After being introduced, Justin McFarland discussed the event’s agenda. Suttles followed up with a prayer before the breakfast was served.
Richardson spoke during breakfast about his experience being an elementary school teacher.
“Every day, I have the privilege of seeing all different colored children come to school and see what a perfect world ideally looks like,” Richardson said. “They don’t have learned behavior affect them yet in a negative way.”
Richardson gave examples of how all children start off playing together and even “instinctively” help when another child is hurt or in need. He explained how, as teachers, faculty members are trained to do CPR, and each individual is assigned to do a certain task. The children aren’t told to do anything and instead work off of instinct. Richardson concluded the story by reciting King’s “Mountain Top” speech, and many audience members gave him a standing ovation.
Shane McFarland then gave recognition to a few Murfreesboro City Council members, such as Kirt Wade and Madelyn Scales-Harris, Murfreesboro law enforcement and emergency service representatives for their response to the planned white supremacist rally in Murfreesboro.
“I don’t think the city could have handled it any better,” he said. “The one thing that I learned is we are one group. We may look different. There are things that we may think different. In the end, we are one community, and I think that we set the example for the entire country.”
McPhee also spoke at the event and acknowledged the police officers and council members for keeping the MTSU campus and community safe that day.
“Councilman Wade called me about a zillion times, making sure that we got the resources that we needed,” McPhee said.
Bynoe was the keynote speaker. She spoke about how the recent losses of her mother, uncle, grandmother, father and brother made her feel lost.
“I asked God,” Bynoe said. “I said, ‘Why did you leave me here?’ The sixth man doesn’t really have a role without the starting five. His answer was, ‘It’s time for you to start. It’s time for you to come out of the shadows and do uncomfortable things. It’s time for you to embrace new people and new concepts and build new bridges and networks and realize everything that I have for you.”’
She also talked about how people can let things like selfishness and pride get in the way of becoming better.
“We think we don’t need help, and we get singularly focused on individual priorities,” Bynoe said. “The fact of the matter is we are better together, and the sooner that we embrace it and play with it, the sooner we can be about the business of the greater things that we seek in life,” Bynoe said.
This year’s Hero of Humanitarian Awards were awarded to Murfreesboro Loves, Habitat for Humanity, the Murfreesboro Fire Department and the Murfreesboro Masonic Lodge Free and Accepted Masons.
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