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Columbia celebrates life of Martin Luther King Jr. over breakfast

Monday, January 16, 2012 | 12:07 p.m. CST; updated 7:44 p.m. CST, Monday, January 16, 2012
Guya Moncrief, 8, left, and her brother Zionm Moncrief, 3, walk away with their beverages Monday morning while Rama Secka continues to serve juice during the annual Poor People's Breakfast at St. Luke United Methodist Church. Orange pamplemouse and tropical fruit punch were served for the annual breakfast.

COLUMBIA — Bonita Ghess remembers participating in a sit-in movement in Columbia in the 1950s. 

Martin Luther King Day is especially important to her because she experienced inequality at a restaurant on Providence Road and Broadway and marched for equality. 

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Ghess heard about the Poor People's Breakfast when she and her family donated two boxes of food during the holiday season.

Ghess wanted to help Almeta Crayton, the founder of the event, with the breakfast. Ghess said she wants to uplift the community in any way she can help.

The annual Poor People's Breakfast was held from 7:30 a.m. to noon Monday at St. Luke United Methodist Church.  At the free breakfast, people came and shared their thoughts and memories of King.

Crayton came to the church around 6:15 a.m. to set up the breakfast. MU sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha came early in the morning and cooked bacon, ham, eggs, rice and biscuits. The sorority has helped Crayton and the breakfast organizers for four years.

Crayton, who has organized this event for about 12 years, explained how she started this event.

She said a local restaurant called T & H Restaurant used to have breakfast and lunch on King Day. When the restaurant went out of business, Crayton wanted to continue the breakfast event to bring the community together.

Crayton said a lot of King Day events do not include low-income people, and she wanted to include them in the celebration.

While people ate breakfast, Crayton made a special announcement, giving thanks and reminding people of what the event means.

Russel Breyfogle, a retired Columbia resident, said he has come to the event for a few years now to celebrate the life and teaching of Dr. King. He said the event reflects a nice community and good friendship.

“I believe it’s good to get together as a community regardless of race,” Breyfogle said.

Rama Secka, member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, greeted people with a big smile and asked them for their drink orders. She thinks it is important to give back to the community, and she said she loves to see the spirit of people coming to the event. 

Don Stamper, a member of the community and director of the Central Missouri Development Council, grew up in the neighborhood where the event was happening. He has come to the event for several years and saw it as an opportunity to connect with his old friends.

“It’s important to remind what Dr. King did and how he did it,” Stamper said. “It’s a good day to spend enjoying the history and embracing the history.”


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