When Sen. Angus King was a 19-year-old college sophomore, he was in the crowd of about 250,000 people at Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
On Monday, at the University of Maine’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast celebration, he spoke about that day, which he said was “one of the most moving experiences of my life.”
“We’re a national community,” King said. “We need to be talking about unity, not division.”
Gov. Janet Mills, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and some Bangor city officials were also among the dozens who attended the event organized by the Greater Bangor Area NAACP and the University of Maine.
Mills emphasized the importance of accepting and welcoming people from across the country and world to Maine.
“We need people to take the jobs that are here today. That means diversifying our economy, diversifying our population and being more welcoming and accepting of others,” she said.
“We need to be more accepting of people who don’t look like us, who don’t come from the same city, town, state or country.”
Keynote speaker Joyce Taylor Gibson, an associate professor of leadership and organizational studies at the University of Southern Maine, asked attendees to come up with examples of discrimination and inequality in their own communities that they could try to address.
“We have to get close to the issue and change the narrative. And we have to do some things that are uncomfortable to make it happen because it is a waste of time to try to sustain Dr. King’s legacy while we eat and listen to speeches,” she said.