WATERVILLE — The lessons of Martin Luther King Jr. are more than a soundbite about racial tolerance, a Colby College dean told a crowd of more than 100 at a commemorative community breakfast this morning.
King’s birthday, which was celebrated around the state, takes on added significance this year, falling on the same day as the presidential inauguration, Tashia Bradley, associate dean of students at Colby College, told those who gathered at the Spectrum Generations Muskie Center.
“It also happens to be the second inauguration of our first president who is black, President Barack Obama,” Bradley said. “The swearing in will usher in a renewal of the hope and the change that was promised. But it will also remind us of how far we have come and, ironically, how far we must go.”
Bradley said that King not only was a crusader for racial tolerance, but also took many strong stances that are far from universally accepted today.
“King pushed to also include an economic equality and antiwar agenda. In April 1967 he spoke out against the Vietnam War,” Bradley said. “A year later, King launched the Poor People’s Campaign, which called for a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”
Bradley said King suffered for his unpopular beliefs and noted that not only was his home bombed, but he was stabbed, jailed and eventually assassinated.
Gov. Paul LePage, who has attended the event for the past two years, was not present this year.
The event was sold out, according to Debora Silva, vice president of community relations at Spectrum Generations, which co-sponsored the event with the Waterville Rotary Club.
Other events in Maine marking the holiday were held at Bates College in Lewiston, the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Kennebunk, Henderson Memorial Baptist Church in Farmington, and an NAACP celebration at the Holiday Inn in Portland.