The word "supper" means different things to different people, but for me it evokes memories of a big Southern fried chicken dinner around my grandmother's dining room table with family and friends and lots of stories, arguments and jokes.
Gathering around a common table has always been central to creating community and finding solutions. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of "the table of brotherhood." And there was a reason that one of the most potent acts of the civil rights movement was the simple insistence on having a seat at the table in restaurants across the South.
Yesterday, Points of Light and its partners – Target and the Corporation for National and Community Service among a strong list of supporters – brought 250 thought and industry leaders together at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. for a Sunday Supper, as tens of thousands of others held Sunday Suppers across the country
The goal: to get 100,000 people to come together across all that divides us – race, class, religion, politics, age – to break bread and start a conversation about what unites us and what we can achieve together. Organizations working with Points of Light and its affiliates to reach this goal include the United Methodist Church, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and Repair the World.
General Colin Powell and Alma Powell of America's Promise Alliance spoke movingly about the role of education in our nation's fight for civil rights – and the need for each of us to do our part. "I urge all of you to gather your points of light together and illuminate the path to success for our children," Mrs. Powell said.
Other speakers included Target's Laysha Ward, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Strive Network's Jeff Edmondson, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Public Allies' Ernesto Morales (an AmeriCorps member), National Urban League's Marc Morial, National Council of La Raza's Janet Murguía, and Patty Stonesifer, founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Corporation for National and Community Service's Wendy Spencer closed the program with help from four teens from the DC Youth Poetry Slam.
I hope Sunday Suppers become a new ritual of our democracy, encouraging us to reach out to our neighbors, listen, understand and take action to solve problems in our communities. As we celebrate the Inauguration of our President, this is an opportunity for us all to embrace our role as leaders in setting the course of our nation's future.
Find out about how to host your own Sunday Supper here. Take a look at highlights from the National Day of Service and Sunday Supper campaigns. And let us know what you did this weekend – and what you plan to do all year long, as we rededicate ourselves to Dr. King's dream. Connect with Points of Light on Facebook and on Twitter at #2013MLKDay or at [email protected].
CEO, Points of Light