WHEELING - Local children enjoyed a hearty breakfast this morning as part of the community-wide celebration of the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The treat - consisting of french toast sticks, scrambled eggs, sausage links, biscuit, juice and milk - was served at Laughlin Memorial Chapel on 18th Street in Wheeling. The chapel is where children are helped with their homework during the school year and can attend vacation Bible school and reading programs during the summer.
Patty Mayfield, who has worked at the chapel for 26 years and serves as cook, said the MLK holiday is now even more meaningful because an African American is president of the United States. She noted it's important to teach today's youth that with hard work comes success.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Teigan Watson, 3, of Wheeling, eats breakfast this morning at Laughlin Memorial Chapel in Wheeling.
"I don't think they realize all the work he had to do to get to that spot," Mayfield said of President Barack Obama.
Zhanterra Smith, 17, said because of King's work she can attend school with "people of other ethnicities."
"I can go to school with people and they won't talk about my race. And I can be friends with whomever I want," Smith said.
DaVina Paige, 13, said King's civil rights work allowed "blacks and whites to go to school together instead of being separated."
"If it wasn't for Martin Luther King, who knows?" Paige added.
Smith, Paige and Harmonie Jackson-Mayfield, 9, all were scheduled to perform a dance about freedom from slavery during a performance at the chapel after breakfast. Their group's name is Velocity.
Nancy DeStefano, administrative assistant, said in addition to its after school services, the chapel ministers to the children.
"The chapel is so much a part of the community in East Wheeling," she added.
Born Jan. 15, 1929, King was the youngest person at 35 years old to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent civil rights work.
According to the Nobel website, in an 11-year span between 1957 and 1968, King traveled 6 million miles and spoke 2,500 times, "appearing wherever there was injustice, protest and action."
King died April 4, 1968, after being assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., where he was planning to lead a march by striking garbage workers. Five years before that date is when King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.