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Report from Louisville (continued)

By Phil Ardery Jr.

The successful 2008 U.S. presidential campaign of Barack Obama suggested the theme for November's Unity Dinner, "Transforming Hope into Reality." K.A. Owens, Alliance co-chair, told us, "Some may believe that just because we have someone who looks like us in a position of authority, the world will change overnight. It won't. … We have to realize that the system is a broken machine that we have to take apart and put back together again if we want a different result than what we have been getting.… Many of our heroes are gone but we are still here. The burden is on us now. We must be the heroes of the next generation.… We must not fail in our task of organizing for a better world."

Among the heroes for the Alliance is Alliance co-founder Anne Braden, who died in 2006 at age 81. Honored at the dinner with the Carl and Anne Braden Award for Lifetime Achievement in Social Activism was Georgia Davis Powers, who in 1967 became the first African American and the first woman to be elected to the Kentucky State Senate.

Keynote speaker McKinney told the audience about her imprisonment in Israel in June, 2009, after the ship carrying her and other activists to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza was intercepted, boarded and seized by Israeli navy personnel. She compared the struggle in Gaza to the civil rights struggles in the U.S. South decades earlier. McKinney also said that it was Owens whose persistence brought her to Kentucky for the Alliance dinner. "I must give credit to K.A., who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer," she said.