Despite weather, kids' King Day event draws a crowd

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PORTLAND — While more than 700 adults attended the 29th annual breakfast celebration Monday morning in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., about 150 elementary and middle school kids learned about healthy eating and living and what it takes to be a civil rights leader.

The first annual Beloved Community Youth Breakfast was designed by Pious Ali and the NAACP Portland Chapter youth group as a way to engage younger kids in activities that reflect King’s civil rights message.

While the NAACP has provided a separate place for kids to hang out in the past during the annual King Day event, Ali said he wanted to provide programming for them, too, as opposed to just babysitting. Despite the snowy conditions, kids ages 4 through 14 met for breakfast at the Holiday Inn by the Bay and then organized into groups.

Younger children were led by author Cathryn Falwell. Each child received a copy of Falwell’s book, “Feast for 10,” which combines nutritional information with numbers and lessons in family togetherness. The kids then participated in activities like Bingo with fruit and vegetable shapes, a Twister-type game with fruits and vegetables and other food-themed games.

Older kids met in groups to discuss the book “After Ghandi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance.” Author Annie Sibley O’Brien, a Peaks Island resident, led the discussion. She co-wrote the book with her son, Perry, who in November 2004 was granted an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army as a conscientious objector to the war in Afghanistan.

The working groups were each assigned a nonviolent leader profiled in the book. They had to pick out what gave their person moral courage.

Rachel Miller, one of the volunteers, led her group in a discussion of former Czech dissident and President Vaclav Havel. They discussed how Havel was seen as dangerous because he was an intellectual.

The kids were then instructed to make “Wanted” posters that included a list of the things Havel did that took moral courage, and were considered “dangerous.”

The group was also encouraged to think about people in their own lives who had shown moral courage.

“What about moving your family to another country for a better life, or adopting a child from another country so they could have a better life?” Miller said. “It’s not just the people in these books, it’s our own families.”

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or


Despite Monday’s snowy weather, participants warmed to their task, the traditional walk down Congress Street to Monument Square to leave a wreath in celebration of the memory of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sidebar Elements

Participants join in a hymn in memory and celebration of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Portland NAACP celebration of King’s birthday on Jan. 18 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. A record 900 people attended the 29th annual event, which for the first time included separate activities for children.

A new program this year geared toward young kids coupled fun and games with educational awareness as part of the NAACP’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast at Portland’s Holiday Inn by the Bay.