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Minn. Leaders Talk Civil Rights Battles On MLK Day

"Don't be nostalgic and say I wish I was there during those days," said Rep. Keith Ellison. "Heck, you got battles right now."
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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and tributes for the late civil rights leader were held across the country.

Among them was a special wreath laying ceremony at his memorial in Washington, D.C.

King would have turned 85 this month.

The Obama family marked the occasion by preparing meals at the D.C. Central Kitchen.

Here in the Twin Cities, about 2,000 people turned out for the annual MLK Day breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Political strategist, author and professor Donna Brazile spoke before a huge crowd at the annual breakfast that UNCF and General Mills host.

And then many of those same people headed over to St. Paul for the statewide event organized by the governor’s office.

Every speaker had a personal message about the meaning of King’s life.

In St. Paul, a group marched and sang to pay tribute to a man who led the civil rights movement with tremendous courage.

The march started at the Cathedral of St. Paul and then spilled into the History Center, where there was more singing as well as prayers, speeches and awards.

Gov. Mark Dayton was one of the first speakers.

“We can choose a path of reaching out to those who are disadvantaged, who are cut off, who don’t have hope and opportunity or we can turn away in silence,” he said.

Dayton’s council on the holiday presented awards to community leaders like Dr. Josie Johnson, and to Rep. Keith Ellison (D – 5th District).

“I just want to say, we have civil rights battles to fight right now,” Ellison said. “Don’t be nostalgic and say ‘I wish I was there during those days. How beautiful they were. How glorious they were.’ Heck, you got battles right now.”

Earlier in the day, the breakfast crowd at the Minneapolis Convention Center heard Brazile describe the current social issues our nation is facing.

“Dr. King wanted us to continue to proclaim the emancipation of all people,” she said. “Emancipation today is immigration reform. Emancipation today is voting rights.”

She also emphasized the importance of service and compromise.

Brazile said that King believed we could never walk alone because “us versus them tears us apart. We don’t have to agree with each other, but we have to respect each other.”

That was one of her final remarks.

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