Annual MLK breakfast goes virtual

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Photo courtesy of Your Hometown Stations

SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS

Brenda Kay Ellis Scholarship: Trinity Zyir Gurley (Perry)

Charles Edward Brown Scholarship: Kayhlen Jackson (Shawnee)

Marcia Potts Scholarship: Zaria Keys (Lima Central Catholic)

Charles Edward Brown Scholarship: Diani Lawrence (Elida)

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LIMA — It may have looked different than in years past, but organizers managed to salvage the 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial breakfast by shifting to a virtual format.

The Sigma Mu Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority partnered with Hello Lima and the Sisters in Service Foundation to present Monday’s virtual celebration. The group lived up to this year’s theme “Our Unity is Our Strength and Our Diversity is Our Power” by uniting with partners in refusal of allowing COVID to cancel this year’s event.

Traditionally, the Lima community gathers in person in honor of Dr. King. People of all ages come out for food, fellowship and to hear King’s words and learn more about the legacy he left behind. This year’s virtual event was pre-recorded and was aired by Hometown Stations in place of the breakfast enjoyed by some-600 people annually, with much of the money raised earmarked for the sorority’s scholarship that benefits local students.

Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell served as this year’s featured speaker. Mitchell, a retired brigadier general of the U.S. Air Force and a clinical professor of medicine and medical oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, talked of a still-existing disparity in the health care African Americans receive.

Peterson shared COVID-19 exposed health care disparities over the past few years, with the coronavirus infecting and killing more Blacks than any other group in the country. While speaking about the demographical differences, the oncologist quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Dr. King Jr. said, ‘of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ As we give honor to Dr. King, we must think of health care being the most shocking and inhumane injustice of all.”

Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith followed Mitchell’s speech to issue a city proclamation designating Monday as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day in Lima.

Before making the proclamation, Smith, who became Lima’s first woman and first Black mayor after being sworn in, honored those who paved the way for her election.

“I think of Furl Williams, the first African American elected to city council when he was elected to the 6th Ward, and again when he became the first Black person to win a citywide election as council president,” Smith said. “I think about Dorothy Riker, the first woman to serve on city council; Francis Napier becoming the first Black council member, and Alberta Shurelds as the first woman to run for Allen County Commissioner.”

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St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church Pastor John McCants, left, looks on as Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith presents the proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Reach Joe Gilroy at 567-242-0398 or on Twitter @TLNJoeGilroy.

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