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Dr. King's Prayer Breakfast Recognizes Historic Realization of His Dream

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On Monday Jan. 19 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Campus Center, the fifth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer breakfast was held to honor the man and his vision. There was a buzz among the participants as the theme of the breakfast centered on the coming Inauguration of Barak Obama and King’s Dream.

After an inspiring invocation by Pastor Henry Briscoe and welcoming remarks by outgoing SMCM President, Rep. Steny Hoyer enthralled the audience with his stirring auditory tribute to both King and Obama.

 
 Rep. Steny Hoyer.
“Years ago, there was a powerful man who was born and raised not far from here. For years he studied and practiced his profession, and every day he grew a little in skill and in ambition, until one day, when he was at the height of his power, he sat down and wrote this: ‘The class of persons who had been imported as slaves [and] their descendants…are beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.’
 
“We know a tremendous amount about Roger Taney, the man who wrote those words. We know his birthday. We can find the Maryland tobacco farm where he was born. We can look at his college grades and see that he graduated first in his class. We have volumes of his opinions as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, including the Dred Scott decision, from which I just read to you. We know the day of his death, the same day the State of Maryland abolished slavery.
 
“And we know what he looked like. We have photographs and portraits—and a life-sized statue. It sits next to Maryland’s State House, and over the years it’s turned green with age. Over those same years, Roger
 

 St. Peter Claver Catholic Church Gospel
 Choir paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Taney’s words turned from the most respectable opinion to the ugliest slur. And for all those years, his statue has sat there, as if to remind us that words like his, and the hateful acts of generations of men and women like him, are a part of our history that can never be erased. We can’t wash away a single line or letter.
 
“But there is another history. It’s the story of slaves, not slave owners. It’s the story of Africans making their way on the other side of the world and becoming, generation by generation, African Americans. It’s the story of the powerless waking up to their power.
 
“So much of that history comes to us through scraps: a half-excavated cabin; a bill of sale; a line in a will or a church record or a chronicle. So much of that history is lost—it’s the history we so rarely see. But we know, almost at the very beginning of it, that there was a man named Mathias de Sousa.
 
“We know that he came to America with the Jesuits in 1634 on a ship called the Ark. We know that he was a fur trader. We know that he once owed money and paid it back. He was, we think, the first black man to cast a vote in an American assembly.
 
“And we don’t know much else. We are sure that he voted; we don’t know which way, or what he said at the time, or if he had any idea that he was the first. He travelled with Jesuits; maybe he was a Catholic, and maybe he wasn

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