The Statehouse was brimming with people lobbying, applauding, waving signs and standing up for human rights on Monday in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.-Idaho Human Rights Day.
Joe McNeal V, age 11, read from King’s famous “I have a dream” speech as part of the official state ceremony in the Capitol rotunda. The youngster went right on with the speech, even though his microphone was cutting in and out, perhaps with more aplomb than some speakers several times his age. When Boise Mayor Dave Bieter got his turn to talk, he suggested young McNeal would be a good candidate for Idaho governor someday.
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne gave the youth the pen he’d just used to sign a proclamation declaring the holiday, and told the crowd that the first proclamation he ever signed as an elected official was the one marking the same holiday 20 years ago.
“Many here today were not even born until after Dr. King’s life was tragically cut short, and yet while so many young people never saw or heard that great man in life, Dr. King’s message still lives and rings true in the hearts and minds of young and old,” Kempthorne said in his annual MLK-Idaho Human Rights Day address. “As Dr. King said, everybody can be great if we’re willing to serve one another, to love one another and to be tolerant of our differences.”
Unlike some past years, Kempthorne was not heckled as he gave the address in the rotunda of the Statehouse, with people watching and listening from each of the Capitol’s three main floors. The day’s observances also included a march from Boise State University to the Capitol ending in a rally on the Statehouse steps, and a protest calling for stricter legislation on the use of pesticides around farm workers.