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By Christen McCurdy | The Skanner News
Published: 19 January 2017

View photo gallery from the Breakfast:


Civil rights attorney Howard Moore, whose clients have included activists Julian Bond and Angela Davis, addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people, who traveled through ice and snow Jan. 16 for The Skanner Foundation’s 31st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.

Moore’s speech focused on the election and impending inauguration of business tycoon Donald Trump. Trump’s lack of regard for civil campaigning, his comments about Muslims, African Americans, Latinos and people with disabilities – and his conduct with women – should be of grave concern to Americans, Moore said. But, in the spirit of remembering King’s legacy, he told the audience to remember that King himself sometimes felt despair and kept fighting anyway.

Moore was introduced by Portland veterinarian and The Skanner News columnist Dr. Jasmine Streeter, and his remarks were preceded by brief speeches by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

Wyden, Merkley and Wheeler – who spent the day before at a Northeast Portland rally to save the Affordable Care Act – were in rally mode, with Wheeler and Merkley both leading the crowd in chants for justice and against building a wall or registering Muslims.

Those in attendance also had the opportunity to sign a petition asking Portland Parks and Recreation to change Delta Park’s name back to Vanport, and 375 people did. To sign an online petition, click here.

For a play-by-play of the event, including a full list of scholarship winners announced, click here.

Reflecting on progress:

“This is a tough time. This is a time of peril. But there have been times of peril before. Martin Luther King had fewer rights than we have today.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were largely in the closet during the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and the 1960s, he said, and people with disabilities had no rights. Public buildings didn’t have to offer wheelchair access and usually didn’t. King himself was not permitted to stay in hotels while he traveled.

“We know peril. We know things can be hard. That doesn’t stop us from struggling, from fighting,” Moore said.

On the media:

We can’t depend on the so-called “fourth branch,” the media, anymore, as mass, corporate-owned media have increasingly trended conservative and often fail to fund deep reporting or robust analysis, Moore said. While social media holds promises, audiences must remain skeptical of the new medium.

“Social media is an unproven source. The speed with which it can reach a mass audience on millions of mobile devices is unmatched in history, but social media is yet to establish whether it can sustain critical thought and deep analysis.”

On accusations of Russian tampering in the election:

“No Russian voted in the election unless they were citizens of the United States,” Moore said, and allegations of Russian tampering are a distraction from discussing the racism that led to Trump’s ascendancy. He pointed out that 51 percent of college-educated White women cast their votes for Trump. “What were they thinking – or were they thinking?”

On the future of work and the economy:

“Dr. King saw that poverty is intractable. He saw that automation and robotics would hollow out jobs and he saw that there had to be a replacement,” Moore said, adding King was planning a Poor People’s Campaign at the time he died. “He didn’t get there because there was a hellhound on his trail.”

On the struggle for justice in difficult times:

“[King’s] message to us today would be straightforward: human progress is not inevitable,” Moore said. “You are the dedicated individuals who will make it happen. You are the people whom the past should concern. You are the people who will bring about single payer. You are the people who will turn out Trump from office. Heed his words. Agitate. Campaign. March. The life you lead today is Dr. King’s legacy.”

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