Kornell, Gerdes planning to attend MLK Breakfast
The 30th annual MLK Leadership Awards Breakfast has been a venerable gathering place for the city's power brokers to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for many years.
This year, the choice to invite Dr. Jamal Bryant, a nationally prominent Baltimore minister who has made anti-gay comments has ignited a firestorm of controversy.
Local gay-rights groups have urged the local chapter of the National Council of Negro Women to disinvite Bryant. So far, the group hasn't done so. The local chapter of the NAACP has supported the group's stance. Some local Black Lives Matter activists have urged Bryant not speak. Mayor Rick Kriseman has said he'll go to the breakfast and use it as an opportunity to "educate" Bryant on the city's embrace of gay people.
Council member Darden Rice, who is gay, said she won't attend if Bryant speaks.
Council member Steve Kornell, who was the first gay person elected to St. Petersburg's City Council in 2009, said he will go. He said the black and gay communities (which naturally overlap) need to talk, not draw battle lines.
"There needs to be a dialog," Kornell said. He said he plans to attend the Jan. 18 event at The Coliseum.
Council member Charlie Gerdes is going, too. He said he doesn't agree with Bryant's stance on gays, but that won't deter him from attending.
"I'm going to honor the legacy and spirit of Dr. King," Gerdes said.