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McMorris Rodgers hosts Spokane faith, community leaders on Civil Rights trip to South

UPDATED: Fri., March 2, 2018, 5:10 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, center, stands with other legislators before a wreath at the National Civil Rights Museum, formerly the Lorraine Motel, during a tour with other members of Congress in Memphis, Tenn., Friday, March 2, 2018. Members of Congress are on a three-day pilgrimage to locations with ties to Martin Luther King; also in attendance are a contingent of community and faith leaders from Spokane. (Yalonda M. James / AP)
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, center, stands with other legislators before a wreath at the National Civil Rights Museum, formerly the Lorraine Motel, during a tour with other members of Congress in Memphis, Tenn., Friday, March 2, 2018. Members of Congress are on a three-day pilgrimage to locations with ties to Martin Luther King; also in attendance are a contingent of community and faith leaders from Spokane. (Yalonda M. James / AP)

Joining Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on a tour Friday of the Memphis motel grounds where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago was a contingent of community and faith leaders from Spokane.

“I just started to tear up,” said Phil Tyler, former head of the Spokane NAACP and one of the congresswoman’s guests on the trip, which toured sites of the struggle for black equality in the 1960s. “I had to step on that ground. And that’s just the first leg of it.”

The congresswoman, who announced her intention to join Rep. John Lewis’ annual pilgrimage at a speech commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Spokane, also invited Kitara Johnson, chief development officer of the Excelsior Youth Center, and worship leaders Lonnie Mitchell of Bethel A.M.E. Church, Joe Wittwer of Life Center and Rodney McAuley of Spokane Youth for Christ.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who participated in the first march from Selma in 1965 that ended in a violent clash with police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, has led Congressional delegations on a tour of important sites from the Civil Rights movement for the past several years.

Tyler said he met with Lewis on the airplane trip Friday morning to Memphis and invited him to speak with the community of Spokane.

“What I’m looking for, is a sense of faith over politics, friendship over fervor and fellowship over fear,” Tyler said.


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