Rod Sheppard remembers too well when he used to have to call and almost beg people to purchase tickets for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast.
“The first years, we had only a handful of people at the breakfast, but the community has really gotten behind the event,” said Sheppard, a member of Kappa Nu Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., which sponsors the event.
Sheppard said he doesn’t have to worry about selling tickets for the event anymore. He said the event sells itself.
“People start calling us or emailing us wanting tickets long before time for the event. We don’t have to go out and try to find people to buy tickets anymore,” Sheppard said.
Fraternity member Larry Softley said the growth of the unity breakfast has been amazing.
“We started out with a handful, I think there may have been 30. Now we’ll have 600-700,” said Softley.
Sheppard said the breakfast, now in its 26th year, is reaching people of different backgrounds throughout the community and bringing them together to develop a stronger unified community.
This year’s event will be Monday, Jan. 16, at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center from 8-10 a.m.
This year’s theme is “Reviving the Village to Create the America that Dr. King Dreamed Of.”
Softley said this year’s speaker will be Brian Perkins, director of the Urban Education Leadership Program at Columbia University.
Perkins is from Tuscumbia and is a graduate of Deshler High School.
Softley said money raised from the breakfast goes back into the Shoals area through scholarships and in the fraternity’s mentoring programs.