TALLADEGA -- A crowd of almost 400 community members gathered this morning at the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church Family Life Center in Talladega for the annual Martin Luther King Unity Breakfast, sponsored by The Talladega County Democratic Conference.

The crowd honored and celebrated the historic civil rights leader for his sacrifices for equality and justice on what would have been his 89th birthday.

This year’s theme was “Together, we win with love for humanity.”

Executive Vice President and Chief Community Development and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for Renasant Bank Tracey Morant Adams served as the keynote speaker. Adams is a Talladega County native, and a graduate of Winterboro High School.

“Would Dr. King be encouraged or discouraged by where we are today?” Adams asked the crowd. “We have made many strides, but we are still are hampered by results of social and economic injustice.”

Adams added that over 23 percent of Talladega County is living below the poverty line, which is significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent. She encouraged those in attendance to keep working together to promote greater good and equality.

“Dr. King once said the time is always right to do what’s right,” she said. “It takes courage for a community to reach across the lines and work together with love.”

Adams noted it had been more than 50 years since King’s iconic Washington march, and the nation needed unity now more than ever.

“The march was not about promoting one race over another,” she said. “King had a vision of equality and justice, garnished through Christian love.”

Adams’ central role with Renasant is leading efforts in the development of programs and community initiatives, to promote small business development and increase business relationship management. She is also a member of the company’s Senior Leadership Roundtable.

“I am blessed to hold the highest position by an African-American female at my company,” she said. “We have indeed made progress toward what Dr. King fought for, but our calling has not ended. I hope we all may follow the cadence of Dr. King’s march for justice.”

Adams is an Alabama native and attended the University of Montevallo, where she received her bachelor's degree in business management in 1988. In 1992, she received her master’s in business administration from Samford University.

She has conducted post graduate work in quantitative analysis from Temple University and economic development training from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Adams is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership, policy law and research from Alabama State University.

She is involved in numerous professional and community organizations, including the Birmingham Kiwanis, United Way of Central Alabama, Talladega College, the National Association of Female Executives, the Links Incorporated and more.

Throughout today’s event, several officials and community leaders urged the public to get involved in serving the community and registering to be a member of the Talladega Democratic Conference.

“I pray our youth will be called to serve, and to let not this dream die,” said Thomas Pugh, vice chair of the Talladega Democratic Conference.

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, who also helped organize the event, were recognized in celebration of the sorority’s 110th Founders’ Day.

Talladega County Commission Chairman and President of the Talladega County Democratic Conference Kelvin Cunningham was also honored for his continued service to the community.

The event was paced by performances from local gospel group, The James 3.

Attendees enjoyed a breakfast that included biscuits and gravy, eggs, grits, bacon, and juices and coffee.

The ceremony concluded with a unified rendition of “Lift Every Voice.”