Speakers at the sixth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. awards breakfast Monday called on more than 300 Myrtle Beach area community leaders to take action to stop gun violence in Horry and Georgetown counties.
“I don’t know that we can continue to watch these lives lost … we have an obligation to fight it with every breath we take,” said Bennie Swans, an organizer of the breakfast and Carolina African American Heritage Foundation. “I don’t want it to be your child or my grandchild.”
The awards breakfast, sponsored by the foundation, was Monday morning at the Canal Recreation Center in Myrtle Beach and preceded a parade in the city. Twelve people were honored during the breakfast for their commitment to the community and residents.
Horry County police Chief Saundra Rhodes helped emcee the event and told the crowd it breaks her heart to see the cycle of violence continue with the community’s youth.
“Please, please, please do everything you can as a community member to take a stake,” Rhodes said. “Let’s not come to action as soon as a violent offense occurs, let’s take action now to stop it.”
Horry County School Board President Joe Defeo said taking action begins with parents and then continues into the community.
“It you want to stop violence, educate our children, it’s the best thing we can do,” Defeo said.
Barbara Hytower, whose daughter Jamilah Hytower was shot and killed along with her housemate Monica Wall in 2006, told the crowd that they must stop gun and drug violence in the community.
“We are doing whatever we can to take our community back,” Hytower said before a moment of silence for those killed locally and in the school massacre at Newtown, Conn. “If we can take one child back, then our children won’t be lost in vain.”
The Rev. C.J. Gore recited King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and brought the crowd to its feet before Mignon Clyburn, a Federal Communications Commission commissioner, gave the keynote speech of the awards breakfast. Clyburn is from Charleston and is the daughter of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn.
“If one man could change the world without any devices we hold in our pockets … just think what is possible. We can do this my friends. One man continues to inspire, motivate and uplift us,” Clyburn said. “With 300 people in the room, the possibilities are endless.”
The 2013 awards from the Carolina African American Heritage Foundation included:
• Grand Strand scholar athlete awards: Everett Golson, Eric Going Jr., Benji Jennerette
• Booker T. Washington award: Roddie and Fannie Brown
• Grand Strand Leadership award: S.C. Rep. Nelson Hardwick
• Good business practice award: Phil Schoonover, Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson
• Good Samaritan award: Rose Rock
• Professional service award: P.J. Browning, former publisher of The Sun News
• Judicial service award: S.C. Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal
• Youth advocacy award: Genar Faulk
• Human service award: Al Teague
• Organizational change award: Brandon Jahmal Anderson of Upward