King Day speaker urges better care for children

MLK Holiday Breakfast
Children's Defense Fund founder and president Marian Wright Edelman spoke about education at the 23rd annual MLK Holiday Breakfast Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Activities to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday are taking place in communities around Minnesota today. The largest of those events is the annual breakfast honoring King, which is held in Minneapolis.

About 2,000 community and business leaders and other people attended this morning's breakfast at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which featured guest speaker Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund.

Edelman told the crowd that the nation needs to do a better job protecting, educating and nurturing children. She said it's not only the right thing to do but is in the best interest of the country's security and economic well-being.

"We have to invest now, and invest with urgency and persistence, so we can give every child a chance to be able to function, work and contribute in this very complex, changing world and economy," Edelman said.

Marching at Central High School
Hundreds of people finish a community march at St. Paul Central High School in St. Paul, Minn. during the Martin Luther King Day holiday celebration on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Edelman said the nation has some 16 million children living in poverty. She added it's been estimated the lost productivity, prison and other problems linked to child poverty cost the nation more than $500 billion per year.

In St. Paul, Martin Luther King Day was marked by an abbreviated ceremonial march. Normally the walk spans several blocks between Concordia College and St. Paul Central High School, but this year the route was shortened to about two blocks.

The shorter route had nothing to do with the below-zero temperatures, according to Metro Transit Police Chief John Harrington. But it was welcome anyway.

"We didn't have as much time for as many songs as I would have liked to have heard sung, but I think there was a certain sense of relief as we all made the turn back into Central High School," said Harrington.

Participants in the St. Paul event were also encouraged to participate in various service opportunities to mark the holiday.

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