Lt. Gov. Speaks At Frontiers Club MLK Day Luncheon
Utica, NY (WIBX) - The 27th Annual Mohawk Valley Frontiers Club Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel in Utica brought out many local elected politicians to help commemorate the 26th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Utica Mayor David Roefaro, Rome Mayor James Brown, Congressman Richard Hanna, Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, County Executive Anthony Picente, 5th Ward Councilman Jerome McKinsey and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara were just a few of the local leaders at the event.
Lieutenant Governor, Robert Duffy who spoke at the event said he remembers the day King was assassinated. Duffy said, "His message of not only trying to create equality and fairness and civil rights for everybody--he was also the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. His impact on the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act as a young man was just incredible. And, I think if Dr. King were to come down from heaven today, he would be happy with some things, and very unhappy with others because there's been some progress but not enough progress."
Duffy also alluded to the political nature and heated rhetoric going around the country saying, "Dr. King always met disrespect with respect. And what we see is that that does not happen very often. We see some of the vitriol that takes place among people and parties and organizations that I think we can take a chance to listen and follow the message of Dr. King." Duffy also touched on the state of education saying he questions whether Dr. King would be happy with the outcome. He said, "I look at the impact of education failures in kids who end up in our prisons or on our streets--it's immense. I think one thing we could do is when we come and honor Dr. King every year, the one take away is to emulate what Dr. King did--actions speak louder than words. Duffy said Mrs. Greene, one of the parents introduced at the event whose adopted son, Shakeem Greene, won a scholarship, is an example of someone who "walks the walk and lives the message of Dr. king."
Mayor Roefaro who introduced Duffy at the event said this day means a day of independence and reckoning. He said, "Martin Luther King has really reshaped this country and we honor him every year. And every year that I come to this event I get more and more inspired because there's something that you'll learn that you didn't know before. And this is just a great group of people who keep his memory alive. We've come a long way and we've got a long way to go, and I truly believe that these events are things that keep us going--that keep us at the fore front of keeping his dream alive. And I think that's why we're all here--to keep his dream alive."
Rome Mayor James Brown said the focus of this day should be about young people. He said, "The young people that are coming from broken homes that really need the guidance and support to get them in the system, to get them an education so they can better themselves and better the community, I think that's what we really have to focus on for the greatest Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
Congressman Richard Hanna said this day should be on all our minds everyday. He said, "What Dr. King stood for is obviously timeless but in these times, it's even more important to remember how much we have in common and how much we're interdependent, and how much we need to create a peaceful society that can argue with positions in a civil way, and come to thoughtful conclusions that last over time. There's too much demagoguery, too much in-fighting and not enough people coming together as one to fix our problems, which are increasingly more severe. When asked about the seating arrangements suggested by Senator Charles Schumer during the 2011 State of the Union, Hanna said he sits next to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle all the time and will do so again during the SOTU. Schumer suggested that Republicans and Democrats sit next to each other during the SOTU address as a symbolic gesture in light of the Arizona tragedy.
Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito also shared her thoughts on this annual day of commemoration saying, "In this world of so much discourse and violence, Martin Luther King's dream has still not been attained. We need to work as a community to be sure that we all continue to have conversations and discussions about living together in a peaceful world."
County Executive Anthony Picente said he views this day as a day of meditation about what Dr. King meant, saying, "especially in these difficult times--it's really a time to reflect and understand about non-violence and about how people can disagree or can do so in a meaningful way and not with the violence that has taken place, and hopefully the message continues, and the dream carries on."
5th Ward Common Council member Jerome McKinsey Sr. said Junior Frontier's is on the front lines of helping inner city youths get into, and through college. McKinsey also touched on the MLK Day commemoration saying, "Martin Luther King Day is just a huge day and a huge event especially inside the black community, and what it does is it helps us realize and remember and not forget the struggle, and the process that it took to be able to enjoy the rights that we now enjoy." However, he added that more work needs to be done to adequately fulfill Dr. King's dream.
Two students were presented with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholastic Achievement Award at the group's 27th Annual Mohawk Valley Frontiers Club Luncheon. Proctor High School Seniors Vincent Gallaway, who plans to major in Forensic Science, and Shakeem Greene, who aims to study Early Childhood Education and English Literature, were both honored for their achievements in education.
For more information and to find out how to donate to further the organizations cause visit: www.mohawkvalleyfrontiers.com.