Mainers celebrate Martin Luther King holiday

Posted Jan. 19, 2009, at 12:32 p.m.

ORONO, Maine – Around 300 people braved snowy roads Monday morning for the 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration at the University of Maine’s Wells Conference Center.

Attendees heard the words of King himself, along with music from singing groups, speeches from local elected officials, local NAACP officials, and a keynote address from former Maine attorney general Steven Rowe.

Most speakers touched on the fact that the day honoring the birthday of the fallen civil rights leader came just the day before Barack Obama was due to be sworn in as U.S. president.

Rev. Dewey Fagerburg, a member of the Greater Bangor NAACP, was scheduled to talk about the national organization’s 100th anniversary but was unable to make it due to the weather. Diane Khiel, who does legal redress work for the NAACP, spoke instead.

The breakfast, which was scheduled to start at 8 a.m., was delayed to 9:30 because of Sunday’s snowstorm.

Speakers included UM President Robert Kennedy and Greater Bangor NAACP vice president George Mathis. Activist Ushi Atukee read from King’s book, “Why We Can’t Wait” and three UM students recited a poem about Obama’s election written by Joe Jackson, an inmate at the Maine Correctional Facility in Warren. Rev. Bill Labbe gave the invocation and Rabbi Darrah Lerner offered a closing prayer. Two singing groups, Women with Wings and Renaissance, also performed.

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