NAACP of Portland celebrates MLK Day, President Obama's inauguration | News
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It's hard to ignore the symbolism of America's first black President being inaugurated for the second time on Martin Luther King Day.
The NAACP of Portland held an inauguration viewing party Monday morning for people who wanted to witness history together following the NAACP's annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast. Among those watching President Obama take the oath of office for a second time were a few students. They say the past four years have been a true inspiration to them.
Mohamed Nur, a Deering High School Sophomore, who helped emcee the breakfast said, "It means hope that anything is possible and just the progression how far black America, and overall as a society, how far we've come."
Still, University of New England Freshman Howa Mohamed said, as inspiring as it is to see an African-American President, there is a danger that Americans falsely believe we are now a post-racial society. She believes the past four years also show how far we have to go. "People are still questioning whether he can be President of the United States," she said. "Because he's not white (they say) that he was born in Kenya, that he's not allowed to be or deserves to be President. That's why we combat these issues right now."
About 650 people attended the Martin Luther King Day breakfast at the Holiday Inn by the Bay before the inauguration. The NAACP celebrated organizations it feels is helping to further Dr. King's goals of equality for all.
The organization also expressed its support for President Obama's gun control proposals. President Rachel Talbot Ross says that while this event is not designed to be political, Dr. King preached non-violence, and that is what gun control is all about.
Talbot Ross said, "It would have been really hard, very difficult, to not recognize the proliferation of gun violence in this country and all the children who are lost to it. When you think about Dr. King's beloved community, there's no place to that, and we made sure it was a part of today's breakfast."
This was also the first year that Maine's governor was not invited to attend the breakfast. Governor LePage has refused the Portland NAACP's invitation for the past two years, instead going to an event in Waterville. He caused a stir in 2011 when he was questioned about why he wasn't planning to attend the breakfast and said if the NAACP didn't like it they could, "kiss my butt."
Talbot Ross said the NAACP has always extended a "respectful arm" to govenors of all parties, but this year, the organization decided to leave the governor off the invite list. "It's become very obvious to us that that respectful arm is not one that's being returned. And we made a conscious decision that we are going to celebrate Dr. King with the folks who want to celebrate."