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Sen. Brown Recognizes King's Influence on his Life

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. continues to inspire one prominent African-American lawmaker as he carries out his civic duties. State Senator Byron Brown says King was a man of courage who spoke out against injustice.

Brown says he was ten years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in Memphis. But Brown says he has clear memories of King and the impact the slain leader had on his own family.

"He was an influence in my life from the standpoint of being someone who stood up against injustice," Brown said. "My family talked about him. They were inspired and moved by him.

"He was someone who changed the face of American culture in many ways," Brown said.

Brown said his family would preach to him many of the ideals King espoused -- the importance of getting a good education, striving for excellence and representing one's community well. Yet, Brown expresses frustration that many young people today take for granted the freedoms King fought for.

"I think he would be displeased with the fact that young people of all races are so unaware of some of the struggles that so many people in this country went through to bring us to where we are now," Brown said. "You can live in the kind of neighborhood that you want to live in. You can go to the kind of schools that you want to and get a good education."

While race relations have improved since King fought for civil rights, Brown said more needs to be done. He cites national statistics that show Buffalo remains one of the nation's most segregated cities.

Buffalo's annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior took place Sunday night at Shea's Performing Arts Center. Song, dance and prayer were featured during the 25th anniversary program by the Dr. King Celebration Committee. Today's holiday commemorates what would have been King's 75th birthday, which actually was last Thursday.