Coretta King urges audience to become politically involved Citizenship doesn't end at ballot box, she says

October 08, 1998|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

In a sweeping address that touched on women's advancement in the work force, combating discrimination and forgiving President Clinton, Coretta Scott King urged people to carry on her late husband's legacy by getting involved.

The wife of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to about 800 people yesterday, mostly business and civic leaders, including Gov. Parris N. Glendening, at the annual Network 2000 Women of Excellence luncheon at Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. She urged listeners not only to vote but to actively pursue equality.

"Citizenship doesn't begin and end at the ballot box," King told the crowd.

Network 2000 is a nonprofit organization that supports gender equity by trying to get women into executive positions and by serving as role models and mentors to all women. Beginning with 17 members in 1993, it has grown to 53 women and men who are business and community leaders, said Beth Dana, event co-chair. Membership is by invitation only.

King's speech was inspirational and political, talking about the struggle for women's rights, the importance of supporting affirmative action and the need to look past the president's personal problems.

Carolyn Burridge, co-founder of Network 2000, said she thought King crossed the line when she talked about political issues. "I was extremely disappointed that she turned a speech about women in leadership into her own political agenda," Burridge said. "It was really the wrong forum for those types of remarks."

But Marsha Reeves Jews, a member of Network 2000, said King hit important points, especially calling for a shift in the nation's focus from the president's possible impeachment over a relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky. "We have so many serious issues in this country that affect all Americans, and aren't dealing with them," Jews said.

Dana said Network 2000 asked King to speak because she would be a good follow-up to Margaret Thatcher, who spoke at its luncheon in December. "We've had so many dynamic speakers in the past, but no one of Mrs. King's stature," Dana said.

Faith Logan, 39, of East Baltimore said King has always been her role model. A single mother of two teen-age boys, Logan said, she admired King's conduct after her husband's 1968 assassination.

"Even after he was gone, she didn't fall out of the public eye," Logan said. "She kept going."

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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