- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated yesterday with parades, marching bands, church services, wreath-layings and politicians teeing off on each other.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was the first to feel the rancor as he rode in a red Corvette convertible with the top down in a noon parade up Martin Luther King Avenue SE.
Bands, cheerleaders, Fonzie the Clown and other participants were greeted with cheers. But silence swept both sides of the avenue as the convertible passed. There were occasional shouts such as "Go back to the Northwest" and "He's a white man."
Some yelled that they wanted Marion Barry for mayor again. As Mr. Williams tried to give his speech at the parade's end, outside the P.R. Harris Educational Center, the band kept playing and drummers kept beating loudly.
President Bush and Congress, a body in which the District does not have voting representation, were the targets when Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, Missouri Democrat, attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the African American Civil War Memorial at 10th and U streets NW.
"We live in a better country today because of the life, the words and the passion of Martin Luther King," Mr. Gephardt said.
But it is disappointing today because of the "hypocrisy of this White House on the racial relationships in this country," Mr. Gephardt, former House majority leader said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush were recipients of a standing ovation at the African American First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Prince George's County.
Mr. Bush told the largely black congregation it was fitting to honor King in a church because King, the late civil rights leader, and churches both advocate a nation of equality and justice.
Numerous D.C. officials took advantage of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to demand that Congress give voting rights to the District by passing a law to allow D.C. residents to elect two senators and a representative.
Mr. Gephardt praised D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's nonvoting representative to the House of Representatives, for her bill that would have given representation to the District.
"We take the late Martin Luther King's birthday to remind us of our rights," Mrs. Norton said, and Congress must be shown "that we want our rights."
D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp said King stood for peace but that D.C. residents may be sent to war even though they have no representation in the Congress that votes on war or peace.
Four hours of revivallike ministry, with occasional references to King, were conducted at the Tenth Street Baptist Church on R Street NW.
"Thank you for allowing him to pass this way," shouted one speaker to about 400 people in attendance.
The congregation at its peak included 33 students all white from St. John Neumann Youth Group of Sunbury, Ohio. They had come to Washington to participate in a march against abortion.
Stories about King's life were told by the Rev. Leroy Gilbert, pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church on 12th Street NW. He said King refused to go to sleep after he was stabbed in the chest as a young minister and repeatedly said that was the reason he did not die.
"He was not concerned about longevity but lived by God's will," Mr. Gilbert said. King was assassinated by a gunman in 1968.
Mr. Gilbert said the "I Have a Dream" speech that King delivered in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial "was the best speech that has ever been given in this world."
At the wreath-laying, Calvin Woodland Jr., 40, of the 1400 block of Newton Street NW, repeated the speech in King's style.
He was applauded after the famous ending:
"I have a dream that this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. 'We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.'"


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