Phoebe Chandler &
The Martin L. King Breakfast Committee
For 33 years the MLK Breakfast Committee has organized an event that has educated the Branford community about the need to treat every person equally. Every year they have a guest speaker that informs and motivates those in attendance to think about the many ways that various groups have to daily overcome prejudices and obstacles to equality. Over the years this has grown from a small group of attendances to the overflow crowds that now attend. Every year those that attend are uplifted by the message and the positive feeling you are left with. The diversity of those in attendance is always impressive and the morning always ends with the hundreds in attendance holding hands singing "We Shall Overcome" Phoebe Chandler and Peter Stolzman have been involved from the beginning and could provide additional information.
The Martin Luther King breakfast was begun at St. Stephens Church and was quickly adopted by the Branford Council of Churches. It has since evolved into an independent organization. Citizens and local businesses are asked for sponsorships to support the Breakfast and funds generated from the breakfast are donated to the Elder Fuel Assistance program and to the Branford Food Pantry. The committee is made up of volunteers from the greater Branford community. Given the religious beginnings of the breakfast, the members tend to come from various churches and religious perspectives. There are Catholics, various Protestant churches and others. This has led to different viewpoints learning about each other and establishing a common ground. The speakers at the MLK breakfast have ranged across a wide spectrum, there have been media people, state and local politicians, beauty queens, educators, sports people, males, females, etc. Each year the committee chooses a theme based on a quote from MLK and the speakers apply it in their message. The committee also works to include students in the breakfast. Branford High School’s Music Makers have been a much appreciated and anticipated part of the day. Students have also helped as servers, assistants, readers and interpreters of MLK's words. All of these bring the message of King to the forefront each year as the breakfast has become a major Branford event. King’s messages of equality, respect, non-violence, and speaking out, for and with, those who are oppressed, are remembered or learned by all those in attendance. For 33 years, the multiracial nature of the committee and the attendees of the breakfast, have provided a common meeting ground for all. It has become an event where all are present and welcome. The respect and love generated by the event is a refreshing change from the separation and isolation within the larger world.