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Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

The Traditional San Francisco Breakfast

By Pat Murphy and Luke Thomas

January 17, 2006

The San Francisco Breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began Monday with a man from Mississippi grown tired of so many waits.

Pastor Dr. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and member of the national NAACP Board of Directors, could wait no longer for the Glide Memorial Church Choir to lead the Black National Anthem.

Instead, former San Francisco Supervisor Brown rolled his breakfast program into a baton and led the crowd as choir followed.

Most present knew the anthem by heart and burst into lyrics on first broad arch of the Brown baton.

Loud, impassioned, insistent, and imploring.

Life every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who has by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

The entire family had come. Muslim, Christian, Jew, organized labor and the Republican California governor, too.

And gave standing ovations to San Francisco African American leaders grown to icons.

LeRoy King, left, drew the longest ovation for his decades of community mediation, organized labor leadership, and service as city commissioner. San Francisco Labor Council Executive Director Tim Paulson is seen presenting King to the crowd.

Mistress of Ceremonies Amelia Ashley-Ward, publisher of the San Francisco Sun Reporter - the voice of and for Northern California African Americans for 60 years.

Willie Brown, a former cab driver and shoe salesman, master of the California Assembly and two-term San Francisco mayor, led Arnold Schwarzenegger to the podium...and this governor waited on Willie.

Brown, who now heads the Willie Brown Institute for Public Policy, explained tradition of the annual breakfast.

"I had the great pleasure of being extended the microphone for every King Day Breakfast we ever had in San Francisco," Brown reflected.

"I am just so delighted that we continued the tradition of honoring what obviously is now by everyone's account been one of the most extraordinary persons to have ever existed in these United States if not in this world."

"It was almost exactly two years ago to the day that a new governor showed up in San Francisco, an old friend of mine for some 25 or more years...

"In October preceding his appearance here a simple telephoned invitation caused his immediate response of the adjustment of his calendar to come appear here at the Holiday Inn on Van Ness Avenue to help us celebrate the King Day.

"Not too many places in America where the governor of a particular state chose the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday - not too many places but California is indeed blessed with having a governor who feels comfortable and committed to come share his words and his views about the King Dream.

Rumors spread before Schwarzenegger's arrival that, if the governor indeed came, organized labor members would walk out.

Just as quickly, word spread that the family would consider such a walk-out disrespectful to King's memory and doors would be locked to prevent a walk-out.

Instead, Schwarzenegger was greeted with faint and scattered boos drowned out by polite applause.

Schwarzenegger said he was wrong when he spoke of the American dream being available to all.

"...I learned how wrong I was when I said that everyone has an equal opportunity in America," recalled the governor.

"As a matter of fact I would drive around and give speeches and say, 'If an Austrian like me, a farm boy who came over here and didn't even speak English, if I could make my dreams become a reality...if that can happen to someone like me it can happen to anyone. All you have to do is work hard.'

"But how wrong I was. How wrong I was.

"When I started promoting the inner city games and the after-school programs in the inner city schools I saw that they did not have the equal opportunity.

"They were not given the equal chance. They did not have the equal teachers. They did not have the textbooks. They did not have the homework material.

"I realized how wrong that I was, that I had all of those things when I grew up in Austria. I had great teachers. I had all of the books that we needed.

"That's what gave me the foundation to believe in myself, to come to America.

"We're not there yet but we will be there...when a baby is born that is when equality has to start, not when you are 20 or 30...you must fight for equality for every child when they are five, and six, and seven-years-old.

"This is what we have to fight for."

As Schwarzenegger exited, organized labor took to the podium with their reminder to the crowd.

"I want to remind everybody Arnold Schwarzenegger for the last year and a half has been attacking all of us in our communities," stated Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council.

"Last November we sent a clear message to Arnold. We said no to Proposition 73, 74, 79, 76, 77 - we sat down and we told him the answer is no.

"The governor came after our pension plans. He attacked teachers. He came after firefighters and homeless workers.

"Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks. Those are names that should not be mentioned in the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"All the tens of millions of dollars that were wasted (in the November special election called by Schwarzenegger) could have been used in our neighborhoods, could have been used to build our schools, could have been used to build our highways..."

The Paulson reminder brought audience and elected officials to their feet applauding.

Mayor Gavin Newsom

Minister Christopher Muhammad

And enjoying the event...

Reverend Cecil Williams, pastor of Glide Memorial Church, with Joyce Ruffin, president of the San Francisco Martin Luther King Civic and Labor Committee.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris at left.

State Senator Carole Migden and Mayor Gavin Newsom

State Judge Gail Dekreon, left, with San Francisco Supervisor
Sophie Maxwell.

Reverend Ted Frazier, associate pastor
for the Voice of Pentecost Church in San Francisco.

Reverend Amos Brown, left, pastor of Third Baptist Church.

San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
with Susan Brown, daughter of Willie Lewis Brown, Jr.

Mike DeNunzio at left, chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, with Pastor Cecil Williams.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Brothers, Gamma Chi Lambda Chapter of San Francisco.

San Francisco Hotel Multi-Employer Group spokesman Cornell Fowler, left, with Teamsters Local 350 Secretary-General Bob Morales and San Francisco Supervisor Fiona Ma.

California Assemblyman Mark Leno.




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