King Day events feature inspiration in Twin Cities, apology in St. Cloud

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Minnesotans honored the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday with music, calls to action, appeals for change, and an apology.

The state's biggest event was the Martin Luther King Holiday Breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where the theme was "Reimagine the Future." MinnPost reports the event was "equal parts tent revival, pep fest, history lesson, and political rally."

The keynote speaker was Democratic strategist and commentator Donna Brazile. MinnPost says she described the impact King's death had on her as an 8-year-old growing up in the South. Brazile said her decision to go door-to-door getting neighbors registered to vote reflected how King inspired people to get involved.

Minnesota Public Radio reports Brazile also cited Minnesota's role in the civil rights struggle. She particularly noted Hubert Humphrey's speech to the 1948 Democratic Convention and his push to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, MPR says.

In St. Cloud there was an acknowledgement of the city's role in racial injustice. The St. Cloud Times reports Mayor Dave Kleis offered an apology for the city's history of racial discrimination. The Times reports a St. Cloud State University professor who has studied local history wrote a piece that was published on the editorial page this weekend calling on the city to apologize for tolerating slavery and segregation.

In a St. Paul event at the Minnesota History Center, the Council on Black Minnesotans revealed a legislative agenda it will lobby for during the session that starts next month, the Pioneer Press reports. The newspaper says most of the 13 bills the council is backing are aimed at reducing racial disparities in education, employment, health, and housing.

The only African-American representing Minnesota in Congress, Democrat Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, issued a statement saying that income inequality is a leading racial justice issue today, Hopkins Patch reports. Ellison says too many Americans are working full-time but living in poverty. He supports an increase in the minimum wage.

An Associated Press story offers an overview of some of the speeches, prayers, and parades held around the country on King Day. Those include a service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King was once the pastor. President Obama was accompanied by his wife and daughters in honoring King's legacy of service by helping a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen prepare its daily meals, the AP reports.

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