Stakeholders Breakfast 2013

Convening, Connecting & Celebrating

First organized in 1999, the Stakeholders Breakfast is an annual event hosted by Community Building Initiative (CBI) in order to gather the key funders and community stakeholders to update them on the group’s work, celebrate the year’s accomplishments, and present plans for the upcoming year, encouraging continued support for CBI. These annual events are important for both the present and future of CBI because it allows them to share and address current issues, while also receiving direct feedback regarding community concerns that could be addressed by CBI and partnering organizations. The CBI Stakeholders Breakfast consistently sets the platform for a diverse, cross-section of the community to connect, mutually benefiting one another.



50 Years Later: Change & Challenge Where Do We Go From Here?

The theme of this year’s breakfast was “50 Years Later: Change and Challenge: Where do we go from here?” in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act. 

SHBPhoto1Early on the morning of Friday, December 6, 2013, guests arrived at the Mint Museum Uptown for Community Building Initiative’s annual Stakeholders Breakfast.  They mingled over coffee and enjoyed music from the civil rights era performed by the Charlotte Folk Society’s Harry Taylor, who was accompanied by storyteller Kali Ferguson.  Guests were given a special treat when attorney James Ferguson joined his daughter for a song or two.  In keeping with the morning’s theme, guests were encouraged to create their own “I March For…” protest signs featuring a cause or issue that inspires them personally.  Topics ranged from “peace” to “access to resources” to “quality public education.”

Just before 8:00am, guests were ushered to the 5th floor where they were treated to a musical invocation by Opera Carolina’s John Fulton.  CBI’s 2013 Board Chair, Steve Larson, officially welcomed guests to a room filled with elegantly set round tables, each place set with a small basket, containing their “picnic breakfast.”

Based on the protest signs they created downstairs, guests were invited to share with their tablemates the answer to this question: “What would compel or inspire you to march today?”  Responses were refreshingly diverse, with no two the same, and participants had an opportunity connect with one another.

Following the table conversation, Mecklenburg County District Court Judge Ty Hands took to the stage to introduce Henry E. Frye, Former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.  In 1966, Frye became the first African American member of the North Carolina General Assembly in over 60 years.  This resulted in his appointment as North Carolina’s Chief Justice, making him North Carolina’s first African American Chief Justice. 

SHBPhoto2Frye opened his speech with a witty poem, easing into speaking about his early career in the justice system and personal experiences as a leader for change and equality, saying, “We begin to make the kind of change that is good for a city, for a state, or a nation.  Yes, even for the world.”

Before closing his speech, he paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and his work for equity, stating, “Things begin to change just a little.  This man believed in doing what was right.”

One of the most memorable guest speakers of the day was Libby Bridges, a ninth grader at Myers Park High School.  Libby’s speech, “Why My Voice Is Important,” described her family’s opportunity to adopt two brothers from Liberia and her personal decision to welcome them into her family, taking a deep, poignant look at racism and inequality in society today.

The breakfast concluded with a sing-along led by John Fulton, Kali Ferguson and Harry Taylor.  Attendees left energized and remarking positively about their experience at the event and feeling motivated and eager to stay connect with CBI in 2014.

For more information about Community Building Initiative and future events, visit


Read Libby Bridges' full essay here...

Read Justice Henry Frye's full speech here...