On January 20, 2014 the Broome/Tioga NAACP put on their annual Dr. Martin Luther King celebration at Binghamton City Hall. There was a cross section of faiths represented by several speakers, amongst them were Jewish, Islamic and Christian. Additionally, the National Anthem they respectfully chose for the event was: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” the Negro National Anthem.

County Executive, Debbie Preston, and newly elected Binghamton City Mayor Rich David were scheduled speakers. It was interesting to note that in Ms. Preston’s speech about equality she neglected to include sexual orientation as a grounds for equality. Why Ms. Preston? Do you feel that it is still OK to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and trans-gendered people? I doubt Dr. King would have felt that way.

Additionally, Mayor David spoke and made a point to speak directly to the children at the event. After touting his difficulties as a child of mixed race (and I am sure there were a plethora and still are) his sage advice was a platitude about the “road to jail being paved with taking short cuts”.  However, Mayor David apparently was completely disconnected from the fact that the ‘road to jail’ is built upon poverty, and 41% of the children in HIS city live at or below the poverty level.

In conclusion, I’m sure the NAACP does not vet the speeches given by the politicians that speak at this event. However, in the future, I would hope that any and all political figures speaking to honor Dr. King at this annual event are able to overcome the disconnect between their own prejudices and the message of TRUE equality and justice that Dr. King gave his life for.




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