MLK event features helping of politics
Posted January 13, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Several hundred state employees gathered on their lunch break Friday to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The annual event featured music, speakers and special awards for community service.
Gov. Beverly Perdue usually offers remarks at the annual state employees’ event, but on Friday she sounded like she was already on the campaign trail, linking King's work for minority voting rights to her veto of legislation last year that would have required voters to present identification at the polls.
“I believe if Dr. King was here today, he would remind the authors of those pieces of legislation and laws that to form a more perfect union, we should encourage more Americans of every stripe to vote on Election Day. Why would we not do that?” Perdue said.
She didn't talk about November specifically, but the message was clear.
“In those remembrances of Dr. King, I pray we find a new strength, all of us, to fight for our own futures and to especially fight for the future of our children,” Perdue said.
Duke University professor and former ambassador James Joseph served as a keynote speaker. He worked with King as a civil rights leader in Alabama and said King's memory has been invoked by uprisings around the world this year, including some in the U.S.
“I feel certain that he would not hesitate to express a prophetic anger about any society where so many of his people are left behind through no fault of their own,” Joseph said.
Joseph said King believed public service would build a more perfect union, an idea he says has gotten lost today.
“We find the climate for public service poisoned by an anti-government frenzy and the advocates for social justice denounced as dangerous radicals that must somehow be silenced,” he said.
Carlos Lopez, who works at Central Regional Hospital in Butner, won this year's award for his Latino community outreach work at the hospital and in Durham. Wake County Sen. Dan Blue received a special award for his work to make MLK Day a state holiday in the early 1990s.