Invocation and Rotary Minute: Charlie Reece

Rotarian Charlie Reece, who is also a member of our City Council, used his Rotary Minute to recount an event that recently occurred honoring a former mayor. With the “amen” it also became our invocation.

Last month, we had a very special night at the Durham City Council, when all of the former living mayors of the city of Durham were on hand with William V. “Bill” Bell, the current mayor of the city of Durham, to celebrate the 98th birthday of former mayor Wense Grabarek, who served from 1963 to 1971. My colleague Council Member Eddie Davis read a lovely proclamation in honor of Mayor Grabarek, detailing his leadership during a period in Durham’s history rife with protests when he worked to bring people together and end racial segregation in hotel and motel operations, restaurants, employment.

Mayor Grabarek then delivered some really amazing remarks, and I’ve pulled a few excerpts that truly spoke to me and I suspect will resonate with many of the folks in this room. Mayor Grabarek really invoked the spirit of public service that animates so much of what we do together in Rotary, so I thought might make a halfway decent invocation for today’s meeting. Let’s see how this goes:

We’re all better than we are, and if we visit our conscience, we usually wind up at the right place.

In all the challenges that Durham has in the future, let’s put our conscience to work. We all have one. Think it through. We don’t need riots and bombings and killings. Let’s do it at the table. That’s my sincere hope.

When I was elected, I did what I thought I possibly could to improve all levels of our life in the city of Durham. And I felt that every time I had the opportunity, I had to really seize it, because that’s what you need to do, seize the opportunity. But rather, I look at it more really as a privilege, as a privilege to serve the wonderful people of the city of Durham.

In 1963, our country was rampant with riot. Today, our country is seriously, critically divided. In Durham, we decided that our diverse togetherness gives light to our soul. I hope that will ever be so in the future.

To which I think all of us here at Rotary today can say AMEN.
Last month, we had a very special night at the Durham City Council, when all of the former living mayors of the city of Durham were on hand with William V. “Bill” Bell, the current mayor of the city of Durham, to celebrate the 98th birthday of former mayor Wense Grabarek, who served from 1963 to 1971. My colleague Council Member Eddie Davis read a lovely proclamation in honor of Mayor Grabarek, detailing his leadership during a period in Durham’s history rife with protests when he worked to bring people together and end racial segregation in hotel and motel operators, restaurants, employment,

Mayor Grabarek then delivered some really amazing remarks, and I’ve pulled a few excerpts that truly spoke to me and I suspect will resonate with many of the folks in this room. Mayor Grabarek really invoked the spirit of public service that animates so much of what we do together in Rotary, so I thought might make a halfway decent invocation for today’s meeting. Let’s see how this goes:

We’re all better than we are, and if we visit our conscience, we usually wind up at the right place.

In all the challenges that Durham has in the future, let’s put our conscience to work. We all have one. Think it through. We don’t need riots and bombings and killings. Let’s do it at the table. That’s my sincere hope.

When I was elected, I did what I thought I possibly could to improve all levels of our life in the city of Durham. And I felt that every time I had the opportunity, I had to really seize it, because that’s what you need to do, seize the opportunity. But rather, I look at it more really as a privilege, as a privilege to serve the wonderful people of the city of Durham.

In 1963, our country was rampant with riot. Today, our country is seriously, critically divided. In Durham, we decided that our diverse togetherness gives light to our soul. I hope that will ever be so in the future.

To which I think all of us here at Rotary today can say AMEN.

Editor’s note: Here’s some coverage of the event from the Durham Herald Sun. The video is proceeded and followed by ads.  Unfortunately we don’t get any revenue from them.

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