MLK Event Celebrates Women Who Dared to Dream
Dorothy Rowley | , WI Staff Writer | 8/26/2011, 5:48 p.m.
Former U. S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman told a packed room at the Washington Convention Center Friday that black women have come a long way over the past half century and that they have a lot going on, because their mothers, grandmothers, aunts -- and many other women before them -- dared to dream.
But, they still owe it to future generations to carry forth the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she said.
"Welcome to this very, very special moment in history. We have come together today to celebrate in a magnificent way, all of the maginificent women who indeed, dared to dream, " Herman said during opening remarks for the Women Who Dare to Dream luncheon that was held in celebration of the new Martin Luther King Memorial on the National Mall.
Herman added that the theme of the gathering -- which was attended by a lengthy list local and national luminaires the likes of Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards; National Council of Negro Women President Barbara Shaw; Bernice King daughter of the slain civil rights leader; Jackie Jackson, wife Jesse Jackson Sr.; Dorothy Cotton; and poetess Maya Angelou - spoke to the "struggles and successes of our our sheroes - who struggled and worked for us to simply have the privilege to be where we are today."
The luncheon, where Angelou read a poem she penned especially for the occasion, was one of several events held this week in Washington in commemoration of the MLK Memorial. However, because of Hurricane Irene which is expected to hit the D.C. area by Sunday, the dedication ceremonies were postponed until September or October.
Herman, who credited the late Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height for their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, also lauded Harry Johnson, president of the MLK Memorial Foundation, as a "real pioneer to bring us to this point."
In noting the Memorial had been brought to fruition, Herman briefly referenced the hurricane saying, "I'm reminded of that old Negro spiritual that said, 'in spite of the storms,' we're moving on anyway [with the luncheon] -- in the spirit that Dr. King would have wanted us to."
Speakers like entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson, urged members of the audience to be the best they could be.
"We must always remember it isn't enough to be as good - you must be better," Johnson said. She said the gathering was the result of the strength of women who faced and overcame discrimination.
"While the contributions that those women made to the Movement are often overlooked, that does not erase the strength of those who faced discrimination," Johnson said, adding that such contributions were buttressed with a "spiritual and moral courage that shines even today. "
Johnson, who also spoke, said it was of utmost importance pay tribute to "our sheroes."
He said the week has been a celebration of a long journey to build the memorial and that it would not have been possible without "all the support " garnered along the way. He mentioned about having to put off the dedication, saying it had not been an easy decision.
"It was with a heavy heart that I had to announce that for the public's safety, that we had to postpone the dedication ceremonies and that it would be rescheduled at a later date," Johnson said.
He said that the Interfaith Services that will held Sat., Aug. 27 at the Basilica in Northeast, will mark the conclusion of events this week that related to the memorial.
"We can make all the plans in the world, and even though we think we're on top, God knows what He's doing," Johnson said to a resounding round of applause.