Staten uninvited to MLK celebrationby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesotan who led the push to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the state 25 years ago won't be part of one of the major observances Monday.
When Minneapolis Democrat Randolph Staten was a state representative, he introduced the bill to declare MLK Day in Minnesota. He said people marched every winter for 15 years to get the legislation passed.
"There were large numbers of people who just did not want to see it occur. That same kind of struggle was happening across the country," Staten said. "There were people who said they were in favor of it, but in fact who were not putting their political capitol on the line against those people who were hostile about not having it passed."
Staten said MLK Day helps people reflect on where the country has been. He said the holiday also helps communities recognize and talk about what our values are today.
The Council on Black Minnesotans initially asked Staten to be keynote speaker for Monday's festivities. But Staten said he stepped aside after the council told him people objected to his selection because of his past. Staten was censured by the state House in 1986 for writing bad checks.
Council Executive Director Lester Collins would say only that his group has no conflict with Staten.
The council choose film producer Robin Hickman to replace Staten. Hickman marched as a child to get MLK Day declared in Minnesota.