Annual MLK Breakfast hosts slew of special guests

by Zoe Stratos | opinions editor

Jan. 20, 2022

For its 23rd iteration, the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast and Program was held virtually on Monday, stopping at nothing to honor King and to present Mayor-Elect Ed Gainey with the 2022 Drum Major for Justice award — just a few weeks after being sworn in.

Hosted by the Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA), the breakfast began at 9 a.m., with special guests Common Pleas Court Judge-Elect Nicola Henry-Taylor, Homer S. Brown Division Chair Morgan Moody, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and more to pay tribute to the holiday.

Each year at the MLK Prayer Breakfast and Program, an individual receives the Drum Major for Justice award, a prestigious award given to those following in the footsteps of Dr. King. In his Feb. 4 1958, sermon on the Drum Major Instinct, Dr. King stated:

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness.”

Between songs and prayers throughout the program, Kellie Ware, the Director of Diversity and Gender Equality for the ACBA spoke of Gainey’s candidacy for the award.

“Mayor Ed Gainey has worked to advance opportunities for all, even those who fell outside of his legislative district. He has been a formidable voice for the downtrodden in the community in Harrisburg, and now on Grant Street,” she said. “The Homer S. Brown Division believes that his commitment to justice and equality, and his vision of a city of Pittsburgh where opportunity and justice is accessible for all, exemplifies Dr. King’s work.”

Shortly after, Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor said in the virtual acceptance speech that in the spirit of King, he must fight every day to create justice for everyone.

“Every day, we’ve got to let our light shine so that the next generation has more opportunity and more access to growth than we had,” he said. “We can do that because we understand the history. We stand on the shoulders of great civil rights leaders, ones that made it possible for me to be here today.”

The address reflected the campaign of the Mayor-Elect, promising opportunity for “those who have been left behind,” as his website states.

In thanking the ACBA, Gainey said he plans to move forward by planting a “seed of change, as long as we water together — that’s the vision of Martin Luther King.”