MLK breakfast speaker: Tap into your hidden treasures

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — On a day when some see Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday off from work or school, Dr. Kenston Griffin, reminded those assembled at the Hurley Family YMCA for a breakfast celebrating the life of Dr. King that everyone must tap into their hidden treasures.

Griffin, CEO of Dream Builders Communication Inc., is one of the nation’s most sought-after keynote speakers. He is a best-selling author as well as a trainer and coach. The Statesville native is a graduate of Livingstone College and the University of South Carolina.

The annual breakfast is sponsored and organized by the Human Relations Council. This year’s theme was “A time for hope, justice, peace.” The event is in its 31st year.

“It becomes a point when we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools, at least that’s what Dr. King said,” Griffin said.

“He said we’re not the makers of history but we are made by history,” Griffin said quoting Dr. King.

“I didn’t come here to entertain you. I came here for us to do something different,” Griffin declared.

He added that “if we don’t do something different, we are going to get the same results.”

Griffin said it’s time that people stop coming together “eating and greeting and not doing and saying.”

“If we are really going to transition into 2017, what are we going to do?” he asked.

Griffin encouraged note taking and gave the audience five tips to help them tap into their hidden treasures.

• Set realistic goals

• Think before you speak

• Watch the company we keep

• What type of attitude do you have?

• Tap into your hidden treasures

Griffin took a moment to thank his sixth-grade teacher Alfreda Cowan, whom he asked to stand as he acknowledged her role in his success.

“Jesus Christ saved my life, but Mrs. Alfreda Cowan, you changed my life,” he said.

He said he had a friend, Chad Cook, who was pretty bright and good at math. Griffin didn’t admit to cheating, but said his eyes wandered a lot.

He noticed that Mrs. Cowan would put her hand on his shoulder and mutter a “hmm” and other vocal utterances under her breath, but later in life he realized Cowan was praying for him.

“What I realized they had taken the prayer out of school, but they had not taken the prayer out of Alfreda Cowan,” he said.

Griffin also used the time he was on stage to talk about fear and conquering goals.

He asked the audience what they let fear take from them, whether it was a promotion or other goal.

“Your fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real,” he said.

“If you’re really going to walk into your greatness, you’ve got to begin inspect what you expect,” Griffin said.

“If your goals and dreams aren’t big enough to make you cry then you’re not ready, as Dr. King would say, to make a sacrifice and die. His goals and dreams were non-negotiable. That’s why he could see what he could see because he had no fear,” Griffin said.

Dr. King said a few things that Griffin said he felt are paramount in the 2017 starting with “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Yes, I believe black lives matter, but I believe all lives matter,” he said.

“See, it’s one race. The human race and when we get that right then black doesn’t matter, latino doesn’t matter, white doesn’t matter, biracial doesn’t matter, LGBTQ doesn’t matter. We are all in this thing togetherm ladies and gentlemen,” Griffin said to thunderous applause.

He encouraged those in the room to spread the message of what was said at the breakfast to those who were not there.

During the event, the audience was treated to a dramatic presentation by the Triple Threat Dance & Charm. The girls of the Salisbury-based studio performed to the song “Glory” featured in the popular movie, Selma.

Founder Krystal Stukes, who, along with assistant instructor Ebony Stockton, wanted a way to show the youth how history repeats itself. The group, made up of 12 girls, ages seven to 14, shared a powerful message through dance about violence that plagued not only cities across the nation, but right here in Salisbury.

The front of their shirts bore the words “Justice For All Just Ain’t Specific Enough,” which are lyrics to the popular song and offered a deeper meaning to the injustice faced by many.

Instructors let the dancers listen to sermons and speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “so they would know what they were dancing for,” Stukes said.

She said they weren’t dancing just for their ancestors, but for the current generation.

The girls, clad in black hooded sweatshirts, at one point turned their backs to the audience to reveal white T-shirts with black and white pictures of people who’ve died violently. Those pictured were George Stinney Jr., Jimmie Lee Jackson, Emmett Till, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Natasha McKenna, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and A’yanna Allen.

Also offered during the event were prayers of peace, restoration and hope delivered by the Rev. Tajuan Kyles, the Rev. Anthony Smith and the Rev. Felix Del Rosario.

Kyles, an associate pastor at Mount Calvary AME Zion Church, thanked God for Martin Luther King who said, “true peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

She remarked how King talked about “the need for us to develop a world perspective so that we may have peace in the earth.”

“We thank you now and we ask that you would manifest your peace in ourselves. Manifest your peace in our homes. Manifest your peace in community. Manifest your peace in our world,” she said.

“May your spirit energize us to step in the path of restoration. Give us courage, oh God, to no longer be afraid to be quiet to sit in the corner of indifference. But God, when we step into the legacy of your slain brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the gap God, raising the banner of justice in the midst of inequity, in the midst of white supremacy, in the midst of racial inequity that abound across all social categories,” said Smith, co-pastor of Mission House.

“Thanking you for the hope that you gave to Dr. Martin Luther King. You gave him a dream of unity. You gave him a dream of hope. You gave him a dream of restoration. We have hope that this community will come together. We have hope that this community will work together towards the benefit of the community. We have hope that this entire nation under the new administration will come together,” Del Rosario said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.