Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister most at home in a church, preaching from the pulpit. So its fitting that Charlotte marks his birthday every year with a prayer breakfast.
This year it would have been Kings 84th the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and the city of Charlottes MLK Holiday Committee are expecting 1,300 people at 8 a.m. Monday in the Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The keynote speaker: chef Jeff Henderson. A one-time drug dealer, he found his new calling in a prison kitchen and went on to tell his story to Oprah Winfrey and in a best-selling book (Cooked). Henderson was the first African-American Chef de Cuisine at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. And the word is that actor Will Smith plans to put Hendersons story on the big screen.
Most impressive given the tradition of turning Kings holiday into a day of service Henderson, the ex-con initially turned down for many restaurant jobs, used his show on the Food Network to help six at-risk young people turn their lives around by cooking.
More than a few awards will be given out at Mondays breakfast to people who have exemplified Kings ideals and furthered his message.
Among the recipients: WBTV reporter and documentary filmmaker Steve Crump; community leader Sally Robinson; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe; and Dave and Chini Nichols of the Center for Sustainable Change.
Proceeds from the event will fund programs for children and teens at the McCrorey Family YMCA. It was founded in 1936 as a YMCA for African-Americans in Charlotte. King was 7 years old and segregation was the law in North Carolina.
News of note
• Krista Tippett, the probing host of NPRs On Being (formerly Speaking of Faith), will speak March 18 at Queens University of Charlotte. Check out her show maybe the most soulful and intelligent hour on radio or TV at 7 a.m. Sundays on Charlottes WFAE (90.7 FM).
• The Rev. James Howell, pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church, will sign copies of his new book at 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road. Struck From Behind: My Memories of God is a memoir about how God can be present in even seemingly mundane moments.
• For the 56th time since 1955, Charlotte-born evangelist Billy Graham, now 94, has made the Gallup Polls list of the 10 Most Admired Men in the world. Nobody else has come close to making the list that many times. The runner-up: former President Ronald Reagan, at 31 years.