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Remembering Martin Luther King

The General Assembly remembered the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. last night during twin ceremonies in both houses of the legislature that honored his civil rights legacy in Maryland.

In the House, Del. Herman L. Taylor Jr. (D-Montgomery) delivered a stirring address for which he received a standing ovation. He recalled King's belief that "the answer of hate and animosity was love."

"When we substitute symbols for substance, we ignore Dr. King's call," Taylor told colleagues.
Taylor, who is a officer in the Legislative Black Caucus, called on fellow lawmakers to continue fighting for racial equality in Maryland, particularly in higher education.

"We need a new generation of freedom riders to make their own dent in the wall of injustice," Taylor said.

Across the hall, Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's) also won accolades and a standing ovation from his colleagues for a speech in which he argued King was "an advocate for the rights of equality of all persons," not just African Americans.
"He believed in humanity, and he believed skin color was not a way to judge a man," said Muse, the founder and senior pastor at Ark of Safety Christian Church in Upper Marlboro.

Muse said others had carried "a little Martin" in them, including the late Sen. Robert H. Kittleman (R-Howard), who was white but served as president of his county chapter of the NAACP. His son, Allan H. Kittleman, is now the minority whip in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley (R-Frederick) said the speech was among the most inspirational he has heard during his years in the legislature.

In the House, Maryland State Archivist Edmund Papenfuse Jr. and University of Maryland professor Ira Berlin presented delegates with a newly published guide that details the history of slavery in Maryland.

Harry E. Johnson Sr., president of the MLK Memorial Foundation, thanked the Maryland General Assembly for being the first state in the nation to support building a permanent memorial for King on the National Mall in Washington.

Johnson presented plaques to Taylor, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert), Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore), Del. Keith E. Hayes (D-Baltimore).

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who was in the House balcony during Taylor's speech, also was honored.

-- Philip Rucker and John Wagner

By Philip Rucker  |  January 22, 2008; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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