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Making the dream a reality

Espaniola Bowen hugs her grandchild Monday during the Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at the Reed Conference Center. The former Midwest City city councilwoman and longtime community advocate was presented with the Clara Luper Award. Photo by Jeff Harrison

Midwest City celebrates MLK Day with Prayer Breakfast

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Midwest City celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday morning with the 26th annual MLK Prayer Breakfast at the Reed Conference Center.

The program included breakfast, music and speakers with messages of unity and acceptance in honor of the late civil rights leader.

Oklahoma County District Judge and Midwest City resident, Anthony Bonner was keynote speaker. He elaborated on this year’s theme of “It Starts with Me – Realizing the Dream.”

He briefly described the “I Have a Dream Speech” which King delivered in Washington, D.C., nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. King described the injustices that plagued American society, but was still filled with hope and hopefulness about the future.

“Dr. King described failure of our nation to fully realize justice and equality for all, and he encouraged those there with a dream,” Bonner said. “A dream that today still inspires us all.”

Bonner said Dr. King’s dream has been realized today.

“Take a moment to look across the room and look how inclusive we are with of our differences,” he said. “We are the realization of the dream. And while we still have bouts of injustice and inequality that we face today. It’s imperative that we face the question of how to respond to these challenges of injustice, inequality and the uphill battle we face.”

Despite progress, Bonner said we must continue working every day to further that dream. He urged the crowd to continue to advance the causes of humanity, equality and justice.

“I employ you to continue to fight for justice, to continue to fight for equity, to continue to fight for what you know is right,” he said. “As Dr. King said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’”

Neighujah “Nia” Harmon, a senior at Star Spencer High School, received the Thomas Michael Jahn Scholarship Award. She is involved in athletics and student leadership at her school. The scholarship is dedicated to the former Midwest City Police Chief who was one of the founders of the Prayer Breakfast 26 years ago.

Espaniola Bowen was presented with the Clara Looper Community Service Award. She said she is humbled with gratitude in receiving the honor.

“I am standing here on the shoulders of two great people – mother Clara Luper and Dr. Martin Luther King,” she said. “They were two great leaders and advocates for freedom, justice, unity, diversity and equality.”

The civil rights leaders sowed the seeds of change for future generations. Bowen said she follows Luper’s example of working in the community and life to promote change.

“I have been in Midwest City for 37 years and for 30 of it I have been in the community working,” Bowen said. “A lot of people say that ‘She doesn’t say much, but when she does, she has something to say.’”

Bowen said she will continue to sow the seeds of love and righteousness which will blossom into beautiful things later in life.

“This reminds us to think beyond the present and into the future and how our actions and choices will impact tomorrow and beyond,” she said.

Bowen is a longtime Midwest City resident. She served on the Midwest City City Council from 2018-2022 representing Ward 3. Bowen has been involved in numerous community organizations and boards including the Midwest City Citizen’s Advisory Board, Omni Neighborhood Association, Marcella Guthrie Scholarship Board, The Continuum of Care for the Homeless Board, among others.

She has worked for the State of Oklahoma for more than 25 years and currently serves as Director over Health Resources Department Service for the State Department of Health. Bowen also currently serves as the chairperson for the newly formed Unity and Diversity Committee for Midwest City and as a member of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District.

The program also included singing of the Black National Anthem, which was led by Minister Kristi Hatcher.

The Del City and Midwest City high school JROTC students presented the colors at the beginning of the event. Terri Angier provided the invocation and Rev. Marshall K. Liggens led the benediction.

Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner speaks about progress made since Dr. Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and the importance of continuing to strive for equality and justice for all people. Bonner was the keynote speaker Monday at the Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast. Photo by Jeff Harrison

Neighujah “Nia” Harmon, a senior at Star Spencer High School, receives the Thomas Michael Jahn Scholarship Monday morning during the Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast the Reed Conference Center. Photo by Jeff harrison

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