Take the one that says, “you can’t go home again.”
“What I think that really means is that some people think they’re too good to go home again,” Bragg says. “I think that’s ridiculous. My whole life I’ve been trying to live up to the kind of men that I grew up with. Why would I not want to come home and talk about those folks?”
Calhoun County native and Pulitzer-Prize winning author of best-selling books including “Ava’s Man” and “All Over but the Shoutin’” will serve as the guest speaker for the McWane Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast on the morning of Wednesday, May 1.
Not only will it give Bragg the chance to come home again, but he will also get to do what he does best — writing notwithstanding.
“I do love to talk to people about my people,” says Bragg, who is a professor of writing at the University of Alabama. “I’ve done that in Seattle and in the Northeast and all around the South, but doing it at home is special because I don’t have to use an interpreter.”
The inaugural prayer breakfast will stay true to its name in that each of the seven area mayors have confirmed that they will participate, bringing a clergy member to represent their respective community with each reading a different prayer for the occasion.
The event is being co-sponsored by the YMCA of Calhoun County and RMC Foundation Boards of Directors with the purpose “to bring all seven mayors and their elected councils together in a public venue to offer prayers for our world, nation and the people in our communities,” YMCA chief volunteer officer Margaret Roberts and RMC Foundation Board of Directors Chairperson Vera Jordan said in a joint statement.
Roberts, the market president of Wells Fargo, and William Meehan, president of Jacksonville State University, will serve as co-chairs of the event, which is underwritten by Birmingham’s McWane, Inc.
The breakfast was the brainchild of Jerry Adkins, president and CEO of the YMCA of Calhoun County who had noticed that prayer breakfasts after the election of local officials was a common way for communities where he’d live previously to come together.
“It was just a sort of natural thing for us to do here,” says Vickie Simmons, executive director for the RMC Foundation. “It felt like the right thing to do. We want it to be a diverse event that represents all the people of Calhoun County.”
The breakfast is being hosted at the newly renovated Oxford Civic Center and is catered by Western Sizzlin’ and Waffle House, but seating is limited. There will be 54 tables seating six people each.
“We’re hoping to have enough space,” Simmons says, adding that tickets will be available for $5 on the day of the event. That does not include breakfast, only the opportunity to hear Bragg speak, and of course, to pray.
As for Bragg, he’ll freely admit this is his first prayer breakfast, but save for a passing fear of lightning strikes, he’s expecting a good time with friends.
“I’m not known to cuss in my books, but I have been known to speak in the vernacular of my people,” he says. “So I’ll have to careful.”
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.
McWane Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast
What: With mayors Leon Smith, Oxford; Vaughn Stewart, Anniston; Alberta McCrory, Hobson City; Johnny Smith, Jacksonville; Steve Baswell, Ohatchee; Rick Freeman, Piedmont; Wayne Willis, Weaver. Special speaker is Rick Bragg and music by Kate Falcon.
When: Wednesday, May 1, 7:30 a.m.
Where: Oxford Civic Center, 401 McCullars Lane, Oxford
Cost: $15 for individual advance tickets, $5 the day of (breakfast not included day of), $500 for premiere seating (table of six, listing in the program, VIP reception with Rick Bragg on April 30, complimentary personally autographed book, professional photograph with Bragg), $250 for preferred seating (table of six, listing in the program)