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MLK event emphasizes education, service

A highlight of the MLK commemorative breakfast is the River Falls Community Gospel Choir, comprised of different local singers, as well as members of the Minnesota Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. They provided uplifting song before, during and after breakfast, directed by Camilla Horne and accompanied by Kim Crisler and Carl Clomon. <i>Debbie Griffin photos</i>

For the sixth time in as many years, people from River Falls and its surrounding area gathered for the Martin Luther King, Jr., commemorative breakfast Monday, Jan. 21, the national holiday that honors the civil rights activist. Subzero cold did not dissuade about 200 guests from coming to share a meal, hear the River Falls Community Gospel Choir, listen to local kids read essays and poetry and watch the 'main breakfast' keynote address given from Minneapolis by founder of the Children's Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman.

Marian Wright Edelman spoke about the need to make sure people are educated.

"What is a child going to do," she asked, "if they cannot read, write or compete?"

She said many kids come out of school without the basic skills they need, and some are too obese or behind to join one of the armed forces, which also hurts America's military defense.

Edelman said America can't afford not to end child poverty. She had seen Dr. King in the 1960s and commented that he never 'ran a campaign' but rather related and appealed to people.

She remembered him talking about the importance of progress and reiterated his famous quote:

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.