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2020 The Skanner Foundation MLK Breakfast
Lisa Loving Of The Skanner News
Published: 23 January 2020

A sold-out crowd packed the Oregon Convention Center for the 34th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, held by The Skanner Foundation on the King holiday, Monday, Jan. 20. View photos below.

mlk2020 elected officials
Bernie Foster recognized the elected officials in attendance at the 2020 MLK Breakfast, as the audience applauded.
Dozens of elected officials and hundreds of community members celebrated the activist legacy of Dr. King, with a special focus on winners of The Skanner Foundation’s scholarship programs.

mlk breakfast program 2020 cvrAttendees were encouraged to use #SkBreakfast when sharing imagesThis year there was no keynote speaker, but The Skanner Publisher Bernie Foster used the event to discuss the opioid crisis. He issued a challenge to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and the other movers-and-shakers in the room: Before you negotiate financial settlements, give some of the power back to the people.

“Before the settlements are reached, the state attorney general should have the drug company negotiate as well with the nonprofit organizations that work directly with communities that have been affected— not just the city and state getting the funds and deciding where the money should go.”

Foster compares the current settlement process with the $90 million tobacco settlement years ago, brokered under former Gov. John Kitzhaber — in which only $7 million was given back to community organizations for prevention programs but more than twice as much money was given to OHSU researchers to build new labs. The process leaves the communities most damaged by corporate irresponsibility out in the cold, Foster said.

“Allow the corporations to negotiate directly with the community groups who know best about tobacco, pharmaceutical issues, housing—they should be able to pay the people directly who have been affected because who knows better where the money should be spent that those communities?”

“I want to challenge our Attorney General to let Community Based Organizations sit at the table,” Foster said during his speech.

Rosenblum stood from her seat at the Publisher’s table and responded: “Bernie, I support everything you’ve said—but that’s something for the legislature to decide. There are many legislators here, you should ask them to take it up.”

Speakers at the breakfast included US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and US Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer.

Merkley referenced this week’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate.

“We still have mass incarceration, we still have racial discrimination slamming the doors of opportunity on Americans,” Merkley told the crowd. 

“We still have discrimination in educational opportunity, and right now our entire democratic republic is on trial—not just the President of the United States in the trial that will start tomorrow, but each of us as Senators are on trial,” Merkley said.

“Will we able to carry out impartial justice according to the oath we swore last week and will the Senate be able to have a full and fair trial to honor the vision of accountability laid out in the Constitution?”

Other speakers included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Rev. LeRoy Haynes, who gave the Invocation at the start and the Benediction at the end of the event, and The Skanner Executive Editor Bobbie Dore Foster. Daisy Santos was master of ceremonies.

Guests seated at the head table included Wheeler, Merkley, Wyden, Bonamici, and  Blumenauer; METRO President Lynn Peterson; Portland Fire Chief Sarah Boone; Portland State University Interim President Stephen Percy; PCRI Executive Director Kymberley Horner; Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam; Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury; Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick; and representatives from the US Forest Service, City of Portland, Oregon Lottery Commission, University of Oregon, Portland General Electric, Multnomah Education Service District, and PepsiCo.

Music was provided by Alonzo Chadwick and Michaela Dean.

In her speech recapping The Skanner’s work and history, Bobbie Foster listed dozens of community groups and campaigns fighting for equality that appeared in The Skanner’s pages and online over the years.

“You have brought us your stories of struggle and success. Through creating visual art, music, poetry and dance. You enriched life for people of all colors and backgrounds. You campaigned tirelessly to right injustices and to improve opportunities in education, work and business. You helped us tell the world what must change—and why.

"Without your voices and your trust we would not be here,” Foster said.

She also listed former staff members’ accomplishments, highlighting former receptionist Mercedes Munoz’ who has been named Oregon Teacher of the Year.

Scholarships were awarded to an impressive group of 28 students. View photos here. Video of the Breakfast will be published on The Skanner website and YouTube channel.


A special thank you to our sponsors of The Skanner Foundation 34th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast:

RALI Oregonoregon lottery university oregon US Forest Service psulogo 300  pcri  Prosper PortlandPGE Kaiser Permanentemultnomah county enterprise holdingsprovidence Metro Bob's Red Millturner constructionWellsFargo home forward Pepsi cascadia behavioral healthpacific power City of Portland 121x90Hood to Coast

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast