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Averett holds first community-wide prayer breakfast


January 18, 2011

By Tara Bozick
Danville Register & Bee
Published: January 17, 2011

In times of transition - for both Danville and America - leaders would do well to emulate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speakers say.

With high unemployment, the current state of education, a "widening gap between the haves and have-nots," "political polarization undermining our humanity" and the recent shooting in Arizona, King would be disappointed with the current state of affairs in America and his words would be wise counsel today, said Calvin Snowden, longtime public servant.

In one of his speeches, King said that we stand between two worlds: the dying old and the emerging new.

"I encourage each and every one of you to commit to being a vehicle to make the 'America new' a reality," Snowden said. "...And to commit to making Dr. King's dream a reality."

Snowden, a former pro football player who then went on to work for the U.S. Department of Commerce and General Services Administration, addressed about 80 attendees of Averett University's first community-wide prayer breakfast honoring King on Monday. Snowden is an Averett alumnus and trustee board member.

King knew building alliances was crucial to the success of the civil rights movement. Snowden said the only way to realize the dream - rooted in the America dream that all men are created equal - and better America is to "eliminate the vitriol" and invite dissenting voices to the table.

During the memorial event for the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., President Barack Obama said Americans should be talking with each other "in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

Diversity of ideas and cultures is necessary to find the best solutions for America's problems, Snowden said.
Yet, America has come a long way "because a man had a dream," Snowden said. King would also be encouraged by Obama's election, he added.

King's legacy can be seen today and lives in today's leaders.

"If it were not for his dream, if it wasn't for his passion, I wouldn't be here today," Snowden said.

Ever since seeing King visit Danville back when Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders was 15 years old, Saunders said he thought about King in everything he did and continues to reflect and practice King's teachings as best he can.

Averett President Tiffany Franks hopes to grow the breakfast honoring King year by year. Franks hopes King's legacy encourages residents to consider their own "call to action" about how to have a positive impact in the community, region and world.