“We do the annual MLK Breakfast to raise awareness of where we’ve been as a country. This event has always been successful. It seems to have its own momentum.” ~Patricia Burk, MVR Board Member, MLK Breakfast Organizer

Story by Lizzy Scully, photos by Betsy Harrison

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. Born in Atlanta, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, tactics his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi helped inspire. ~Wikipedia

In 2011, Mancos’s first Americorp volunteer started the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast at the Mancos Community Center as part of her volunteer requirements. Now the breakfast hosts from 100-120 people and draws numerous volunteers from the community. In fact, says Gloria Thatch-Woody, one of the key organizers, there has never been a shortage of volunteers. The event inspires deeper thinking about issues of race and equality, plus it’s a free and delicious breakfast offered to the entire community (though donations are accepted to help cover costs). The event is now held at The Grange. This year’s event will be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 21, 2019, at 8a.m. MVR recently chatted with Thatch-Woody to find out more about this special event.

Mancos Valley Resources: Why the MLK Breakfast?

Gloria Thatch-Woody: People see it as a great opportunity to involve and educate Mancos residents about civil rights issues.

MVR: Why do you think this event is so well attended?

GTW: They come for the good food, great company, and the opportunity to make a statement about race, equality, and equity.

MVR: How many volunteers are involved with this event each year?

GTW: The MLK Breakfast draws many volunteers, including eight who prep the day before and more who arrive the day of. They spend four to five hours prepping for a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee and tea with all of the trimmings. Plus, they set the table with MLK quotes as the centerpieces and hang framed portraits of significant people and events on the walls and on a display table. More volunteers show up on Monday to serve, break-down, and clean up. In 2018, the volunteers put up display about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., which included photography by Mancos residents who participated in his civil rights movement.

MVR: What other ways do people get involved besides eating and volunteering?

GTW: While celebrating at the community center over a couple of years, we hung several large pieces of paper on a wall with a pen and the question, “WHAT DO YOU DREAM FOR?” Folks would write their statement.

MVR: What are some of the special things that happen at this event?

GTW: Though Mancos’s schools don’t take the day as a holiday, last year about 20 six- to seven-year-olds partook in the breakfast, writing their own statements to complete the quote: “I HAVE A DREAM ___ ____ ___ ____ _____.” Then, during the breakfast which they attended with their teachers, the Mancos Americorp garden instructor read each of their names and their statements out loud.

MVR: In addition to helping organize and volunteering, in what other ways are you involved?

GTW: As the only Mancos African-american female, I have done three annual MLK classroom educations for five- to six-year-olds. It includes maps of slavery routes, which countries were involved, how slaves traveled by ships, African chiefs who were paid to gather and hold others for the ships. The role of slaves, the Civil War and laws regarding freedom. I show a photo of myself and my white husband and explain the law of Misegenation. We would have been jailed if we had married before the 1945 law permitting inter-racial marriages. As well, after the event, I personally take some of the photos and exhibits to the Mancos Library to add to their full month MLK exhibit.

Volunteers are needed for the breakfast for serving from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and cleanup from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Contact Patricia Burk at p_a_burk@msn.com or Jordan Lang at jordan.ann.lang@gmail.com to volunteer.