|Vern Fein reliably contacts me in January to promote the MLK prayer breakfast, which will be a virtual event this 36th year. As we will all be brewing our own coffee, this memory reminds us of the unexpected possibilities for personal encounters when we can again be together. Blessings and love to each of you, wherever you are. -Renée|
A few days ago a black man came up to me in the coffee line at the annual M.L. King Jr. Prayer breakfast celebration. I remembered him, remembered that he had once almost died of a stroke at a young age, but recovered fully to become a significant community leader in his middle years. Now he said: “I want to tell you something, something I have wanted to say to you for years. Now is as good a time as any.”
There had been some years when I was one of those who rose dawn early to cook for the annual King prayer breakfast, laughing now at some of the fiascoes that occurred —forgetting to thaw the bacon one year, neglecting to put water in the grits pot after we cooked it and throwing that hardened pot away, arriving at a site one year to find only few pans or utensils and going across town to get them to finish a frantic breakfast–so I was sure he was going to remind me of one of those events.
But that is not what he said to this older white man. He said: “You probably don’t remember this, but what you once said meant a great deal to me. Once when you were speaking at the breakfast, you apologized to all the African Americans in the room for slavery, for the part white America played in it. I had never heard that before and I have not really heard it since. I have wanted to thank you for years so now I am finally doing it this morning. Thank you.” He reached out and took my hand and I was speechless for a bit, mumbled something about I thought Bill Clinton did that once, and took my coffee back to my table.