At Boston's MLK Breakfast, A Renewed Message Of Resistance

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with attendees of Boston's Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast Monday morning. (Shannon Dooling/WBUR)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks with attendees of Boston's Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast Monday morning. (Shannon Dooling/WBUR)

There was a clear theme at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast — a message that seemed well received and almost craved by the audience.

It was a message of resistance, and the more directly that message was presented to the crowd, the louder the cheers in the room.

With President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration only a few days away, Sen. Elizabeth Warren set the tone, saying she's ready to fight Trump on the issues that matter most to her constituents. Invoking the names of previous civil rights leaders, Warren reminded those in the room of the importance of unified resistance.

"John Lewis understood that, Dr. King understood that. They shocked the people of our nation and now, more than ever, it is time for us to cause necessary trouble," Warren said.

Despite harsh words about the incoming president's stance on immigration and health care, Warren told reporters that she will be at Trump's inauguration.

But, when asked whether she agrees with Congressman John Lewis, who recently questioned the legitimacy of Trump's presidency given the charges that Russia tampered with the election, Warren hesitated.

"What I agree with is that John Lewis is a man who has earned the right to have his view of Donald Trump's presidency and legitimacy," she said.

Warren says she believes there are questions around Russia's involvement in the U.S. electoral process that must be answered.

Sen. Edward Markey issued his own plea.

Calling on the revolutionary spirit of the state, Markey asked the crowd if it was ready for a new movement of resistance.

"Will you be like the preceding Massachusetts generations that started the American Revolution? That started the abolitionist movement? That started the Freedom Riders Movement?" Markey asked, ticking through his points as the crowd's applause continued to soar.

"Are you ready here in Massachusetts to be the students of Dr. Martin Luther King? To be individuals of great conscience? Thank you all for what you are going to do in Dr. King's name," Markey said. "God bless, Dr. Martin Luther King. God bless his soul. God bless his good works."

Many in the audience accepted that call to action.

Renee Williams and Sherrie Saint-Amant, both of Marlborough, said they've attended these breakfasts in the past but this year feels different, especially following the election of such a polarizing figure.


"I think the call to action — you know I certainly have been feeling that personally and there's just so much to do, so I feel very inspired after listening to all of the speeches," Saint-Amant said.

Nodding her head in agreement, Williams said she now feels a personal responsibility.

"It inspired me to want to volunteer, participate, to get into service. To put this action to work," she said. "We talk about it, and I talk about it, but now it's time to do some work."

Though he did not directly add his voice to the chorus of officials imploring resistance, Gov. Charlie Baker did recognize what he says has been a messy and edgy clash of politics and policy.

Baker says he's attending the inauguration because he was invited, and that he's ready to stand up for the state.

"And I plan to speak respectfully to folks at the federal level about issues I disagree with them on as well as issues that I agree with them on," Baker said. "I would have attended no matter who had won the election if I had been invited."

Citing deep relationships with the federal government in industries like medical research, technology and defense, Baker said that it's in the state's best interest to keep communication open.

"We are far better served by disagreeing agreeably than we are through name calling and sort of character assassination," he said, "which I think has become much too much a part of our public discourse."

As the breakfast came to a close, everyone in the room stood together, some holding hands, to sing aloud a civil rights anthem Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made famous: "We Shall Overcome."


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Shannon Dooling Investigative Reporter
Shannon Dooling was an investigative reporter at WBUR, focused on stories about immigration and criminal justice.



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