PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine officials paid tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday as they said the country grapples with racial inequity and injustice, made worse by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“From the continued inequities in our criminal justice system that harm Black Americans to the widespread disparities that have made Black Americans far more likely to suffer the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that the dream Dr. King shared nearly 60 years ago has not been fulfilled,” said Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King in a written statement. He said that on Aug. 28, 1963, he was perched in a tree on the National Mall listening to the civil rights leader’s famous speech.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said progress on these issues “is won on school steps and street corners, on bridges and buses, in legislatures and courts,” advanced by people like Dr. King “whose courage and conviction remind us that equality and opportunity for all is the moral heartbeat – the imperative – of our nation.”
She and Sen. King urged people to recommit themselves to realizing these ideals.
In the days ahead Americans of all backgrounds must summon King’s wisdom and drive “to work together in pursuit of a more perfect union that truly guarantees liberty and justice for all,” Sen. King said.
In Maine's largest city, the traditional Martin Luther King Day event went virtual during the pandemic.
The Portland chapter of the NAACP was holding a daylong schedule of events, all of which could be viewed remotely.
“Though we can no longer come together in a ballroom, we invite you to spend the holiday with us for a ‘Virtual Teach-In’ and ‘Call to Action,'" the organizers wrote.
Events included a variety of sessions focusing on racial disparity during the pandemic to the “Unavoidable Impatience” for justice to an online reading of King's “Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Registration is free.
The NAACP has hosted the community event honoring King for four decades, traditionally featuring a gospel concert, interfaith dialogue, youth program and dinner celebration.