COLUMBIA — Desmon Turner sat at a circular table at the entryway of St. Luke United Methodist Church with other members of the Mizzou Black Men's Initiative, his eyes lighting up as he greeted people at the annual Poor People's Breakfast.
Turner has been coming to the event since childhood, but this year is different.
"Sitting at the other side of the table and serving people has really touched me," Turner said. "Looking at everyone’s face saying thank you, I really didn’t get to see that when I came here with my family."
The Poor People's Breakfast was held from 9 a.m. until noon Monday at the Methodist church, 204 E. Ash St. The event serves to remind residents of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy — and to give everyone a decent free meal.
Eighteen dozen eggs, 40 cans of biscuits and a whole lot of sausage and bacon were prepared for the event, said Janet Godon, who volunteered for the first time with her family this year. Volunteers arrived at the church at 7 a.m. to start cooking food.
Godon was inspired by Martin Luther King III's speech during the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration on Thursday, when King asked people to actively serve the community in remembrance of his father, rather than relax during the holiday. Godon brought her husband, Ken, and their children, Lucas, 10, and Lauren, 12, to volunteer at the church.
"I hope that I'm encouraging my children to have this as something that they do every year when they get older," Godon said.
Almeta Crayton has been involved with the Poor People's Breakfast for 20 years and remembered participating in the civil rights movement when she lived in St. Louis. She said young people have always been involved with the breakfast, but every year they're getting younger and younger.
King led by a good example and frequently did things he didn’t have to do for the sake of his community, she said.
Many of the people who came for breakfast have been coming for years. Woodcrest Chapel Pastor Masood Heidari said this year was his fifth or sixth time and now that his children have grown up, Heidari’s wife, Faye, could come to the breakfast, too.
"I love these events that bring everyone together, not just the black, but the black and the white," Faye said.
Masood said he reflected on the ideology of King hours earlier and said his vision for America had a tangible effect on his life.
"On a personal note, his dream manifested in this," Masood said, motioning to himself, who is from Abadan, Iran, and his wife, Faye, who is African-American. "We’re married, and we have two children. His dream, and his vision, made this possible, that right now Faye and I are sitting next to each other and doing life."
Supervising editor is Simina Mistreanu.