Speakers say King’s dream still unfulfilled
“You can think of how far we have come, but that does not negate how far we have to go.”
Those were the words of State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields. Hutchinson, a state senator for a decade, represents most of Kankakee County. She was speaking Monday morning at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation Interfaith Prayer Breakfast.
A crowd of 275 people attended at the Quality Inn in Bradley. More than a dozen speakers offered greetings and prayers for the community and country.
Hutchinson told the audience that she was sworn in as a senator when she was 35. She noted that when her grandfather was 35 he did not have a protected right to vote.
“We live in a time of angst and mistrust in each other,” she said. But she added that “before you get angry, listen with your heart.”
She asked the audience to make sure that the message of brotherhood goes home and would last beyond this one day.
Someone once told her she did not look like a senator. She answered by asking what a senator should look like.
Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong told the crowd that this was an impactful time, coming in the shadow of the murder case of Laquan McDonald. On Friday, former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced to 81 months for the second degree murder of McDonald. McDonald, a black teenager, was shot to death in 2014 during an encounter with police.
The mayor learned of the sentence on Facebook. “People were outraged,” she said. “I was angry and I cried.”
The sentence has drawn protests and criticism as being much too lenient. Van Dyke could be released in about half the time for “good behavior” in the Illinois penitentiary system.
In another point, Bradley Mayor Bruce Adams said that the audience needed to demand inclusion instead of exclusion and that ordinary Americans today were much better than their leaders — much better than their president.
The Rev. Nick Greanias of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church delivered the prayer for our country.
The Rev. Greanias defined slavery as “the original sin of human captivity. He also made the point that this was a day to remember many other injustices, too. It was a day to remember women’s rights, as typified in the work of Clara Barton and Sojourner Truth. It was a day to remember the injustice done to Japanese-Americans when they were interned during World War II.