Monday morning, January 18, at 7 am, former two-time governor of Massachusetts and author Deval Patrick delivered the keynote speech for the 26th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
This sold-out event with over 2,000 people in attendance was organized by the General Mills Foundation and United Negro College Fund (UNCF). It offered an opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of service and inspire us to live out his dream of freedom and equality. The theme was “Civil and Right: Are You Living the Dream?”
Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Despite a challenging economic environment, he maintained a disciplined growth strategy of investment in education, innovation and infrastructure, while delivering timely balanced budgets.
Patrick funded education at the highest levels in the history of the commonwealth, achieved nation-leading student performance, and earned the state the top spot in the National Race to the Top competition. His landmark 10-year, $1 billion program to promote the state’s life sciences industry has positioned Massachusetts as a global leader in biotech, bio pharmaceuticals, and digital technology and a national leader in clean and alternative energy.
Before the keynote, two long-time African American judges were honored with Lifetime Legend awards: U.S. District Judge Michael Davis and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. Justice Paige was unable to attend, but his daughter was there to accept his acknowledgement.
Governor Patrick’s speech dug into the recent tragedies of Black people who died after encounters with the police. “What kind of people harbor such fear of someone like me that they shoot first before asking questions?” This comment garnered roaring applause.
“What kind of people see what the rest of the world sees in the videotaped suffocation of a suspect and no one is convicted?” he continued. “What kind of people are we when the enthusiastic and overwhelming election of the first Black president provokes the Congress to do everything in its power to marginalize him?”
Patrick highlighted a few facts about history as it relates to America: “There has always been hate, there has always been injustice, and there have always been bullies,” Patrick said in a thunderous tone. He continued by stating that it is worst when people of conscience conceal the truth, like in Chicago where it took a videotape to get a conviction for the killing of a Black man by the police while he was unarmed crossing a bridge.
Patrick described his disappointment with people who are more than willing to shout their anger, but are only willing to whisper their kindness. Patrick said, “It’s time that we start learning what Dr. King taught us: ‘to shout justice, to shout compassion, and to shout love.’”
The MSR asked Patrick about his future endeavors: “I’m raising a fund through Bain Capital to do impact investing, which is investing in for-profit enterprises for both financial return and social and environmental impact.”
The 26th Annual MLK Breakfast will air again on TPT Channel 2, Sunday, January 24 at 8 pm, and on Sunday, January 31, at 2 am.
James L. Stroud, Jr. welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
James L. Stroud, Jr. is a contributing writer and photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.