Conyers and Rockdale County residents gathered Monday for the Ninth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast held at the Conyers Longhorn Steak House. The Rockdale County NAACP and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce jointly presented the program of song, prayer and encouraging words held each year in observance of MLK Day. Those gathered held hands and closed the event by singing "We Shall Overcome." From left to right: an unidentified man links hands with Ron Simpson, chairman of the Phoenix Pass Foundation, Kysa Daniels and Katy Zahradnik.
CONYERS — The Rev. Layne Fields reminded those gathered Monday for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast in Conyers that there is still a cause for social justice and bringing people of all backgrounds together for the common good.
Fields, pastor at Old Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, spoke at the ninth annual MLK breakfast hosted at LongHorn Steakhouse in Conyers. The Rockdale County NAACP and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce jointly presented the program of song, prayer and encouraging words held each year in observance of MLK Day.
He noted the progress the country has made since King’s time for equal opportunity and more sense of community between black and white residents. He then asked, “Is there not a cause?” Fields said, yes, of course, and there is much more work to be done.
Fields said the question comes from David asking his brothers the same question in I Samuel 17:29, “And David said, ‘What have I now done? Is there not a cause?’”
“Do not we, the common people, have a cause to stand together, fight for one another instead of against one another? Is there not a cause?” Fields said. “Well, I believe over the past 20 or 30 years we seem to have been distracted by the false notion that we have arrived as a nation and the dream has been fulfilled. While the progress has been made, the cause of selfless servitude has been replaced by selfish ambition.”
Fields described today’s society in many ways as having lost its way. He believes many people have become distracted by technological advancements that limit personal human interaction and are less inclined to be inconvenienced by society’s problems. People also find themselves divided by partisan politics.
He said the need to work together is just as important now as it was 50 years ago during the Civil Rights Movement.
“We seem to forget a basic principle of physics — that when the tide rises, every boat in the water is supposed to rise to a higher level,” he said. “Yet now we see fewer boats rising to record heights while many boats are capsizing at alarming rates.”
Fields illustrated his point with a story of his encounter with Dr. Joseph Lowery, a contemporary of King. Fields said he noticed from his travels that every MLK Boulevard in “any city, USA,” is likely to be in a rough part of town.
Fields said he asked Lowery what King would have thought about streets named for him going through tough neighborhoods. Lowery said smiling, “Son, Marty would love it.”
Lowery explained that King would prefer to have his image and name spoken in a place where he felt people still needed him.
“In the mind of someone who knew him quite well, Dr. King would rather have his name hung on a street sign in the ‘hood as opposed to a statute in the Mall of Washington,” Fields said. “Apparently, he would rather have his face on the front of a local paper of a town where change is still happening rather than his image etched in granite on a side of a mountain.”
All funds raised at the breakfast benefit homeless initiatives in Conyers and Rockdale County, including Phoenix Pass and Family Promise of NewRock.