Mayor Richard M. Daley today joined elected officials, members of the business community, residents and religious leaders from various denominations across the City of Chicago for the 23rd Annual Interfaith Breakfast celebrating the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Hilton Chicago's Grand Ballroom, 720 South Michigan Avenue.
The keynote speaker for the celebration was the Rev. Otis Moss, Jr., a longtime advocate for civil and human rights who recently retired after serving as pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland's for 33 years.
"Rev. Moss is a civic leader and former colleague of Dr. King who has devoted his life to social justice," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "He has consulted with presidents, received numerous honors for his work in civil rights and continues to spread his spiritual message of love, justice and equality for all throughout the world."
Moss, was born in rural Georgia and became a minister at 17 while attending attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he earned his bachelor's degree and a master of divinity degree.
While at Morehouse, Moss learned about non-violent protest from college President Benjamin Mays and befriended Dr. King. He helped lead sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and went to jail several times while fighting for voting rights for African-Americans. Moss also marched with Dr. King in Selma, Ala., and in Washington, D.C.
"Dr. King's legacy opened the door and helped create the possibility for an African American to be elected President in our lifetimes," Mayor Daley said.
Over 40 years ago, as our nation mourned the loss one of our most eloquent voices for social change, we were left to ponder what the future would hold for us all.
"It was hard to imagine back then that a young black man with family ties to Kenya would become a U.S. Senator from Chicago. It was even harder to imagine that this man would be elected President of the United States. We don't need to imagine any longer."
"We are indeed moving closer to achieving Dr. King's dream of an America that works for everyone regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or background," Mayor Daley added. "But, as we all know, there is much more to be done before America works for all people. And it remains true that, among the poorest Americans, minorities and women are over-represented."
"In these difficult economic times, it's the particular responsibility of government to help people -- especially those who need our support the most," Daley said. "During these tough times there is a growing need for new jobs, job training, and affordable housing. Our leaders at every level need to enact programs that kick start our nation's economic recovery -- that invest in our infrastructure and our future."
"Here in Chicago, we will continue to do all we can to ensure that no one falls between the cracks -- that every Chicagoan is given the chance to share in our city's progress and promise. I'd like to believe that our efforts follow Dr. King's guidance." Daley said.
The City of Chicago strongly supports the designation of Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday.
Mayor Daley encouraged Chicagoans to observe the Martin Luther King national holiday by spending the day in service to others.
"I encourage everyone to use this holiday as a day to paint a community center; to sit with an older person; to tutor a disadvantaged child," Daley said. "A day for each of us to read to a student, work at a food pantry or bring a meal to the homebound. A day for each of us to work for social justice in some way. In this way, we can call do our part to honor the memory of Dr. King the right way."