Posted: Jan. 19, 2004
SERVING LIBERTY AND
BREAKFAST FOR ALL
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
The annual Martin Luther
King Day breakfast, sponsored by state Rep. Hazel D. Plant and the
Organization of Minority Women, is one of those can't-miss events in
Delaware politics. It is also one of those can't-know what is going
The 20th annual breakfast,
which brought about 400 people Monday morning to the Police Athletic
League on Market Street in Wilmington, was as free-flowing as it
gets. Certainly it celebrated King and the civil rights movement he
led, but it also was part religious revival with prayers and singing
and part politics. It was the same mix that King himself was.
Still, there was more. The
breakfast also was a special recognition for breast cancer
awareness. Plant, a Wilmington Democrat, and eight other members of
the Minority Women wore pink double-breasted pant suits, and the
program was printed on pink paper also to raise awareness.
This was one event that
clearly not only talked about diversity but lived it.
The program reflected it,
too, subject as it was to change without notice. People not listed
in it gave prepared speeches -- including Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and
U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. -- and there was no telling who would
do what when. The introduction for the keynote speaker, educator
Gladys D.W. Motley, inexplicably was followed by a singing solo
before she spoke.
The event ran so long, about
two and a half hours, that Samuel E. Lathem, the Delaware AFL-CIO
president who was the master of ceremonies, had to leave before the
There was not one shred of
Philadelphia Eagles' green anywhere.
Less understandably, there
were no signs of the Democratic presidential campaigns trolling for
votes in the primary Feb. 3, even though Wilmington is a stronghold
for the Democratic Party. The local political set knew enough to
come, though, especially the Democrats.
Minner and Biden topped the
list of Democratic statewide officeholders, who also included Lt.
Gov. John C. Carney Jr. and Treasurer Jack A. Markell. U.S. Rep.
Michael N. Castle was the only Republican statewide officeholder who
Wilmington and New Castle County officials were present, notably a
number of Democrats hunting for new offices, such as County Council
President Christopher A. Coons, who is running for county executive,
County Councilman Penrose Hollins, who is running for council
president, and City Councilman Norman M. Oliver, who is interested
in running for the County Council. Coons and Hollins are expected to
Mostly the focus was on
remembering King and his message.
Motley, the keynote speaker,
spoke of King's philosophy of peace, love and equality. "Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. freed African-Americans from segregation, and in so
doing, he freed America," she said. "His dream has not yet been
fulfilled, but it remains alive."
Biden called King a
transcendent figure. "Every one of the individuals from Christ
through King who has fundamentally changed the way society treats
its people, every one of these leaders had three things in common,"
"They had a whole hell of a
lot of physical courage, in addition to mental courage. They were
optimistic. They really did believe in the perfectibility of man.
Not a single solitary one" -- and here Biden added Mohammed -- " was
not tolerant. Tolerant of differences."
Perhaps the pink program
itself summed up the essence of Martin Luther King Day the best.
"The torch has been passed, and we have accepted the challenge," it
said. "Please remember to register to vote."
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