MLK event set for Jan. 12

The 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast will be at 9 a.m. Jan. 12 this year.

As usual the breakfast will feature singing by a church choir, and awards will be given to those who serve their community. But some things have changed. For one thing, only two individuals will receive awards.

“We went with a different way to do the awards this year,” said Charles Clayton, chairman of the MLK Living the Dream Committee. “The two people were are honoring, we felt had done so much for the community we were just going to focus on them.”

The recipients will be Curt Olson and Jerry Patterson, who passed away earlier this year.

“Curt was active in the community, on the city council for years, and in Frontier Days for years,” Clayton said. “Jerry Patterson, the Patterson baseball field, just touched a lot of youth’s lives for last 20, 30 years, if not even more. I’m probably shorting him a few years.”

The committee thought it was “kind of odd” that Olson and Patterson had never received an award after all they had done, so it was decided to focus on just two recipients, Clayton said.

Awards are given out every year to “individuals, businesses or students we felt lived the dream of Martin Luther King, they actually in their day to day lives did what he talked about,” he said.

“I remember Curt,” said MLK committee member Jane Burleson. “I worked with him on the City Council. Also Jerry, I thought, was very interested in the youth and what to do for them.

“He was wonderful, but he was just a quiet person,” she added. “He was humble. He was not one to say, ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that.'”

The food will be different this year, too.

“We’re putting the breakfast up for bid,” Clayton said. “We’re sending out letters to different vendors here in town. Just to kind of spice up the breakfast a little bit, and do something different maybe each year.”

There will be no featured speaker this year, he said, but guests will get to hear an update on the MLK committee and on Athletics For Education and Success.

The two organizations have merged over the last year, Clayton said.

“Both were doing a lot of similar things in the community, a lot of the board members were the same,” he said.

The Rev. DC Darensbourg, of Second Baptist Church, will also speak about the African-American cultural center he is working to bring to Fort Dodge.

“We want to educate African-American men, women, boys and girls to their cultural heritage. That’s our overarching goal,” Darensbourg said.

“Our contributions (to this country) have been significant, and we need to be more appreciative of what those contributions have been.”

Right now, the cultural center has a large library of books, CDs and DVDs housed at Second Baptist Church, Darensbourg said -$7,000 worth of material that has been donated. Plans are being made for how to share these resources with the community, such as inviting groups of kids from the school system.

The Cultural Center also will hold events throughout the year.

Burleson explained the point of the breakfast.

“It’s to get people involved and try to keep the motto of what Martin Luther King always said,” Burleson said. “I just think it’s a wonderful program for people to attend, to give recognition and not to forget Martin Luther King’s goal. Not because he was a black man. Because he was an American who believed that everyone should be treated fairly.”