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Pastor pays tribute to King's dream at Community Breakfast

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The Rev. Javan Leach speaks about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Breakfast sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association of University Women at the K.E. White Center, Monday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

When it comes to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a fairer and more just America, it’s not always clear-cut that the dream has been realized, the keynote speaker at the 17th annual King Community Breakfast in Elizabeth City said Monday.

But while there sometimes might be ambiguity about how King’s dream has turned out, there’s none when it comes to how America will continue to meet its many challenges, the Rev. Javan J. Leach said.

“The community has seen difficult days before” and if God has “brought us through that, he’ll bring us through this,” Leach told attendees of the breakfast, sponsored by the Elizabeth City Branch of the National Association of University Women and held at the K.E. White Center.

Leach, pastor at Mt. Lebanon AME Zion Church, told attendees there’s no point looking for Superman or Wonder Woman to face these challenges for us.

“No one is going to come and save us,” Leach said. “We have to do it ourselves.”

But that doesn’t mean we’re alone. God and the work of his Spirit can help us, he said.

“God has created us for such a time as this,” Leach said, basing his message on Acts 2:17, which describes God pouring out his Spirit on all people in the last days.

“We are surely living in the last days, my friend,” Leach said, adding he didn’t mean the earth itself is actually coming to an end. Instead, it’s “the world as we know it” that’s coming to an end, he said.

The world of “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am,” of neighbors giving their last dollar to help each other out, and of many other traditions is coming to an end, he said.

“But God says ‘I’m still going to bless you anyhow,’” Leach said.

ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon, who offered brief remarks at Monday’s breakfast, urged the community to take King’s message and legacy to heart.

“As we consider the landscape of our community, state and nation, there is no better time to pause and reflect on the principles of unity, peace and equality for which Dr. King stood,” she said.

Darrell Allison, a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, also attended Monday’s breakfast.

In an interview, Allison said that he always tries to find significant ways of observing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with his two daughters, ages 13 and 9. Allison said it was great for him and his family to spend the day not only honoring King but also doing so in a part of the state they don’t see very often.

“I have been wanting to get out this way,” said Allison, who lives in Morrisville near Research Triangle Park.

He said he wanted to visit the campus but also to learn more about Elizabeth City and nearby counties so that he can help the UNC Board of Governors be intentional about ensuring ECSU lives up to its potential as a resource for the community and region.

Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker commended the National Association of University Women for organizing and hosting Monday’s event.

Parker, who is the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor, cited as part of King’s legacy the leadership of black elected officials such as her and Pasquotank County Commissioners Cecil Perry and Charles Jordan, who were also in attendance at the breakfast.

Pasquotank Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dixon brought greetings from the county government and said he was glad to be part of an event recognizing the accomplishments of a great man.

“Thank you very much for allowing Pasquotank County to be a a part of this great celebration,” Dixon said.

Erin Davis, assistant dean of students at ECSU, said part of her purpose at the university is to help students become better people. One way of doing that is by keeping before students King’s observation that life’s most pressing question is “what are you doing for others?”

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