Attendees grab breakfast during a Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast Monday morning at The Harker Heights Community Church.

What started years ago as a family tradition at Rhonda Brown’s home has grown into a church function that she hopes will one day be a community-wide event.

On Monday, Harker Heights Community Church held its annual breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Church members, young and old, stood at the front doors to welcome everyone who attended the free community event.

A strong advocate for civil rights and equality, Brown said people need to remember the sacrifices King made, come together to face problems in the community, and fix them.

“By not talking about the problems and not getting involved and being comfortable in our own world is not making the progress that Dr. King made,” she said. “So I think we’re even losing ground.”

About two dozen people gathered in the church to enjoy a homemade breakfast of all the favorites like, bacon, sausage, grits and biscuits, eggs and fresh fruit and juices.

Besides breakfast, other events included a video tribute to Nelson Mandela followed by King’s 1967 speech on the Vietnam War, one of his least popular.

Pastor Philemon Brown emphasized the significance of the speech.

“It was about what it means to be silent, and the challenges we still have to address in our community relating to silence,” he said.

Brown called upon the crowd to follow King’s example and use their passion to push for needed change. He also expressed hope that individuals would get the courage to stand on their principles as King did.

“We can’t be concerned about what the majority says because principles should transcend popularity,” he said.

Phyllis Jones said the holiday was not a day off, but a day on.

“We don’t have the right to go home and not take care of our neighborhoods. We need to get out there to protect those who don’t have a voice,” she said. “Dr. King was the voice for people who were silent.”

King’s message of universal brotherhood resonated with Roderick Brown, who recalled childhood memories of the civil rights leader.

“One thing Dr. King wanted us to do was fellowship with all races and enjoy being with each other,” Brown said.

Paula Johnson, the chef for the breakfast and Rhonda Brown’s sister, smiled and sang as she cooked in the church’s small kitchen.

“This is my hospitality mission to welcome everyone to our church, so they can see that we make a difference in the community,” Johnson said.

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