Cape Girardeau MLK breakfast speaker says inequality persists in education, housing, jobs

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Debra Mitchell-Braxton claps as Apostle Adrian Taylor, Jr. gives the keynote address Monday, January 17, 2011 during the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast at the Osage Centre in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

Cape Girardeau natives Shirley Slaughter and Joan King remember what life was like before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

"It was really bad. We had cast-off books, cast-off uniforms," Slaughter said of life during segregation.

King said she and other blacks could only go to the pool and skating rinks on certain days, enter restaurants and movie theaters through the back doors and ride at the back of the bus.

Slaughter said thanks to King and other civil rights leaders, society has made great strides in racial equality, even if there is work still to be done. She was at the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast on Monday at the Osage Centre and said she has been attending the event since its inception.

"I never get tired of hearing of the struggles, the sacrifices he went through so I can live the life I am now," she said.

Breakfast keynote speaker Apostle Adrian Taylor Jr., of Lighthouse Breakthrough International Ministries in Cape Girardeau and Lighthouse International Kingdom Ministries in Denver, said almost 47 years after King's "Dream" speech, blacks have rights, but not equality in housing, job opportunities and education.

"The Negro is not equal. It's the fault of everyone in this room," he said.

While inequality is not as blatant in today's society as it has been in the past, he said, it still exists and not enough is being done to address it.

"It's the 20,000-pound monkey in the corner and nobody will talk about it," he said.

Taylor said he is troubled by the idea that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just a "Negro" day. He said King embraced all people and fought for equality for everyone and that people are not willing to celebrate his accomplishments one day a year.

He said many who refuse to acknowledge King's holiday will be celebrating Presidents Day next month, despite George Washington's history as a slave owner and that Abraham Lincoln's true desire was to send all blacks back to Africa.

Taylor said blacks should continue working hard for equality, and he encouraged people to lay aside their malice.

"There's no time to hate whites. There's no time to hate Mexicans. There's no time to isolate old people," he said. "We're all part of the same family. Take responsibility for your actions and push forward to your unalienable rights."

Breakfast organizer Debra Mitchell-Braxton said she was glad Taylor chose to be controversial at the event because too often people "tiptoe" around the issue. She cited a recent incident involved property damage and racial slurs against a black couple in Cape Girardeau as proof that the community still needs to work toward racial harmony.

She said the breakfast started as a way to honor King's commitment to service to others, and donations of school supplies and food items were collected to benefit various local agencies.

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, were among the more than 150 people who attended. Emerson also addressed the audience, saying society would be better off if more people followed King's peaceful approach to disagreements.

At the 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Luncheon, Marcia Ritter presented three Dr. C. John Ritter Humanitarian Service Awards. Winners were Willie Mae Walker and Shelly and Bishop Stafford Moore. A posthumous award was bestowed upon Lonel Johnson. His widow, Renee Johnson, accepted the award.

Dr. Rickey M. Anderson, pastor of Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Sikeston, Mo., was keynote speaker at the luncheon.


Pertinent Address:

1625 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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