Savannah’s 1st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Businessman’s (now Business Communityís) Breakfast was held on Monday January 20, 1987, in the Grand Ballroom of the DeSoto Hilton Hotel. George Berry, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Industry and Trade was the keynote speaker, and WTOC-TV news anchor Doug Weathers served as Master of Ceremonies. SunTrust Bank and the Ben Sheftall Distributing Company were the major sponsors. Norton Melaver, Chairman of the M & M Super Market chain was recognized for his Humanitarian Service to the Savannah Chatham County Community in the spirit of Dr. King. More than 300 business and community leaders and advocates from across the depth and breadth of the community attended.
In December 1986, A committee of businessmen consisting of Benjamin R. Polote, President, The Polote Corporation; Joseph N. Bell, President, D. L. Henderson Company; Richard Eichholz, President, Ben Sheftall Distributing Company and Roy L. Jackson, President, Jackson Bros. Car Care Center, under the auspices of Rev. Bennie R. Mitchell, Jr., Chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day Association hired consultant and State Representative Diana Harvey Johnson, President, CAA Consulting Corporation, to organize and implement the 1st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Communityís Tribute Breakfast.
From 1977, Johnson had been the volunteer organizing agent and a founder of the Savannah Chatham Coalition of Black Womenís Organizations, Inc., the initiator of the actions that first brought to the forefront the need for a local Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Observance Day in Savannah.
On January 19, 1987, at the DeSoto Hilton, Arnold Tenenbaum, President, Chatham Steel Corporation, and Member, the Governorís Human Rights Commissioner served as keynote speaker. James E. Hungerpillar,
CEO, Carson Products Company accepted the Business Community Service Award. The Welcome was brought by Benjamin Polote and Ricky Eichholz. Greetings were brought by U. S. Sen. Wyche Fowler; State Rep. Diana Harvey Johnson, Chatham County Commission Chairman Charles C. Brooks, and School Board President Dr. Martha B. Fay. Joel C. Williams, President, Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce; Dr. John T. South, President, South College; Dr. Willie E. Jackson, Savannah State College; Charles Teel, President, Kem Distributing Company and Rev. Robert G. Twyman, President, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. Mrs. J. Olivia Alexander rendered the musical prelude.