Dellums echoes King at memorial breakfast; Former congressman extols peace as 'ultimate movement'


Former U.S. Rep. Ronald V. Dellums has spoken out as a protester, a congressman and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Yesterday, at an Anne Arundel Community College breakfast, he sounded more like an apostle.

"Peace is more than simply the absence of war; it is the presence of justice," he told a rapt audience at the 18th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast in an echo of the great orator. "The ultimate movement is the peace movement."

Dellums recalled for the crowd King's address to University of California at Berkeley students denouncing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Dellums, then a student, said King's words baptized him as a "warrior for peace" and shaped the congressman he was to become. When Dellums began his 27-year career in the House, he was noted for his vehement opposition to the war.

He is not through preaching King's gospel of peace, he said.

"Nonviolence is not simply a tactic for change, it is an alternative way to live," he said. "We continue with our attempt to apply force to problems that don't lend themselves to military solutions like Iraq. The genesis is rooted in economic, political and social problems."

The annual breakfast, which honors community leaders for their commitment to King's goals and student winners of an essay contest, drew nearly 500 people to the college's student cafeteria.

The breakfast committee honored Larry Griffin, founder of two Annapolis volunteer groups that help the needy; the Rev. Robert Powell, rector of St. Phillip's Church in Annapolis; Sheila M. Finlayson, South River High School teacher and vice president of the county teachers association; and Vickie H. Rogers, an academic adviser at the community college. The breakfast is sponsored by the community college, several county agencies, churches and community groups.

For many, Dellum's words made memories of the distant past real again.

"Every time we have something like this, it brings it all up," said Martha A. Smith, president of Anne Arundel Community College. "I always get inspired. It's good for me to be reminded there is a bigger reason for everything we do. It's a good time to recommit."

"I can remember when I was supposed to ride in the back of buses, but I was too arrogant," said Mae Mosteller, a Brooklyn Park resident and member of Phi Delta Kappa sorority, one of the breakfast sponsors. The breakfast is "making it real for young people. It's real for them when they can hear what it used to be."

Dellums said the challenge for the next generation is to pursue peace.

"If Martin Luther King were still alive, he would pursue a new national security agenda that would be more reliant on diplomacy and problem solving, not military solutions," he said. "We would spend more of our resources solving these problems. As long as you pursue justice, the struggle that Martin Luther King started has to continue."

Pub Date: 1/19/99

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