On Monday, the Community YMCA of Eastern Delaware County hosted its annual Unity Day Breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., where guests enjoyed a continental breakfast buffet, live music and speeches from an award-winning student essay and a lively speech from keynote speaker, Renee Amoore.
Seated throughout the large roundtables in the Drexelbrook Special Event Center’s elegant ballroom were many well-known county politicos who celebrated Dr. King’s legacy with their constituents.
“It’s wonderful and important to be reminded of Martin Luther King’s legacy and the dream he had for America,” said state Rep. Margo Davidson (D-164), one of the bi-partisan political figures in attendance. “We know now that his dream is not fully realized, so now, more than ever, we need to think about what it means to love one another, respect each other and to treat others with the same level of respect that we want to be treated.”
Amoore, the highest ranking African-American female Republican in Pennsylvania who co-chaired the state GOP committee and led the state’s delegation at the 2004 Republican National Convention, gave a poignant speech, drawing correlations from her own life experiences to that of Dr. King’s and also dropped a historical bombshell on the audience.
Like Dr. King, Amoore said, she, too, had the backing of a mother who was heavily involved with social justice. She told The Spirit her mother, who had an eighth grade education, returned to school at age 50 to pursue a nursing degree to follow in her own mother’s path.
“Her mother was the first (Licensed Practical Nurse) on the mainline and so my mom became a nurse,” Amoore, a Bryn Mawr native, said. “(My mother) was always interested in making sure that people had the right information and insight to survive; she dealt with social justice a lot.”
Amoore said her mother then branched from her career in medicine into politics through an alliance with the legendary political leader Tom Judge, to combat systemic racism in Bryn Mawr, especially in the school district.
As a newfound political figure, Amoore described her mother as a gatekeeper for the Black vote, vetting candidates to see if they truly were for the betterment for all communities, including the African-American community.
She was so inspired by the fight her grandmother and mother put forth, Amoore said, that she subconsciously found herself following in their footsteps, becoming a third generation holder of a nursing degree.
In her speech, Amoore spoke about the battles she, like the women before her, fought during her career as the first African-American on the Lower Merion School Board.
“When they saw me, they said, ‘Oh my God, she’s Black,’” Amoore told the audience, adding that the statement became commonplace as she moved up the ladder as vice-chair of the board and, finally, to president of the board.
When asked about the methodology she used to navigate through such a space, Amoore said being true to herself, a trait she learned from her mother is what allowed her to persevere; however, being under a microscope of constant scrutiny, Amoore admitted, was “difficult” because “everything rests on you,” she told a reporter.
To the audience, much of whom was young, Amoore revealed that Dr. King’s mother was also assassinated, before her son, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, while playing the organ during Sunday service. The bullet holes in the organ, Ammore said, are still visible today.
When asked what advice she would pass on to young people, Amoore said, “Be you, be who you are; feel good about you, love yourself.”
As a close to her speech, Amoore told eighth grader Jaiden Brown, who won a Certificate of Achievement Award for her essay in honor of Dr. King, “You’re phenomenal!”
“I feel proud of myself,” Brown told The Spirit of her accolades.
In her essay, like Amoore’s speech, Brown also wrote about how Dr. King’s teachings impacted her life through desegregating schools and other public institutions.
“He did all of that without using any violence,” Brown said.