PELL CITY – The 12th annual St. Clair County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast drew a packed house Monday.
“Citizens of St. Clair County, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Marion Frazier, one of the organizers for the annual breakfast, who sang the national anthem. “I am overjoyed with the crowd.”
This year’s MLK breakfast was at Celebrations. Normally, the event is at the Pell City Civic Center, but that facility is under renovation.
Pastor Donald Gover, who introduced this year’s speaker, former Birmingham police Chief Annetta Nunn, said the MLK Breakfast continues to grow.
The breakfast, which starts at 8 a.m. each year, promotes unity and community awareness. Proceeds from the event also support scholarships for local students.
“We have two scholarship winners here today,” Frazier said.
She recognized C.J. O’Neal, of Pell City, and Edward James Jr., of Springville, as the two MLK Unity Breakfast scholarship recipients. Both students are attending Jacksonville State University.
Pell City Mayor Bill Pruitt also attended Monday’s breakfast.
“This is always a special event,” Pruitt told the audience. “Today is not about the you or me; it’s about the we.”
Nunn said it was an honor and privilege to speak at the breakfast. She told the crowd Gover tracked her down and found her.
“He said, ‘I’ve heard you speak before, and you don’t talk that long, so don’t start today,’” Nunn joked.
Nunn was the first African-American woman to be appointed as Birmingham’s police chief. She retired from the Birmingham Police Department after 28 years of service.
She is also no stranger to Pell City.
Nunn served as the community outreach coordinator for the YWCA Central Alabama Domestic Violence Program. The organization has a home, “Our Place,” in St. Clair County that provides a safe haven for domestic abuse victims and their children.
Annually, the community comes together to support the YWCA Central Alabama Domestic Violence Program through the “Purse and Passion” fundraiser. The event, which raises thousands of dollars each year, is at the Pell City First United Methodist Church Beacon.
Nunn thanked those who support the effort, which she said was sorely needed.
Nunn talked about King, who she said was a man who did not care about politics, but about people.
“He put the interests of others before himself, even before his family,” she said.
Nunn questioned what King would say about the nation’s leadership today, pointing to the shutdown that has lasted for 30 days, with 800,000 federal employees going without a paycheck.
She said the situation was like people playing a game of “Chicken” to see who blinks first.
“It’s just wrong,” Nunn said.
The former chief talked about her strong faith in God, and she spoke about issues and controversies such as “The Wall.”
“It’s not a wall thing to me,” she said. “It’s a law enforcement thing to me.”
Nunn also talked about gun violence.
“A gun doesn’t need to be used to settle disputes,” she said.
She talked about recent movements that seemed to divide the country.
“Instead of fighting about which matters more, Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, Martin Luther King would say, ‘Fools, all lives matter.’”
She said Dr. King wanted to see all people judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
At Monday’s program, the Rev. Alvin Crenshaw presided over the event. The Pell City High School JROTC color guard presented colors, and former Coosa Valley Elementary School Principal Thelma Jones greeted guests.
Floyd Waites provided a musical performance. He was joined by Duran Junior High School South Principal Cory O’Neal and his son, C.J. O’Neal.
Jacob Adam, of Springville, gave a rendition of Martin Luther King Jr’s. I have a Dream speech, which the civil rights leader delivered Aug. 28, 1960, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.