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MLK Day speakers in Rochester say disparities remain

Speakers at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event Sunday in Rochester noted that the nation continues to face problems in race relations, the Rochester Post-Bulletin said.

 Mahmoud El-Kati, a Macalester University professor, said at the Rochester Community Baptist Church that while progress has been made, "we're still engaged in this struggle. Imagine reading a 250-page book. Guess where we are? On page 37. We're not there yet."

He used an analogy of two elevators, one going up, and the other going down, the paper said:

In a sign of the progress black America has made, many prominent African-Americans are ascending upward — people such as Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Richard Parsons, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner and others. But still, too many are heading downward, he said.

"It's still bad because our children are filling up our prisons," El-Kati said.

And W.C. Jordan, president of the Rochester chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, noted that while King fought for voting rights nearly 50 years ago, there were still efforts in some states last year to suppress the black vote.

"The same kinds of things that (King) advocated for — education, jobs, health care — we're seeing disparities there as well," Jordan said.

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