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Keeping the dream alive: NAACP holds annual MLK Day event

Don’t dwell on it, build on it.

That was the message of Harold Hayes’ address to those gathered at Mt. Olive Baptist Church Sunday in Canonsburg to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Hayes, a retired KDKA reporter, was invited by the Washington branch of the NAACP to be the keynote speaker at their annual event. Hayes began his career in 1979 and retired in 2016.

The theme of Sunday’s event was “Keep the dream alive, there’s more work to do.” Hayes built on that theme with the mantra “don’t dwell on it, build on it,” urging people to learn from past mistakes to build a better, more equal, future.

He often drew from his career as a reporter, recalling once in 1997 when he covered a news conference held by the director of the regional Ku Klux Klan, announcing his intent to march in downtown Pittsburgh.

“The assignment editor, who was white, and I appreciated his point of view, he said, ‘We shouldn’t give this guy the time of day,’” Hayes said. “But I opened my big mouth, and said, ‘I think the story is something has made the Klan feel comfortable enough to do something they hadn’t done since the 1920s. They would always have rallies in rural areas, but they weren’t big and bad enough to march in a city.”

Hayes added that he stayed quiet through the hateful rhetoric he heard at the news conference, and that he felt responding with anger and harsh language in the moment would have made the event newsworthy for the wrong reasons.

“The story would have gone viral, but the issue of what made the Klan feel comfortable enough to march in city would have gotten lost. The story would have generated plenty of heat, but very little light,” Hayes said.

Also speaking at the event was Chartiers-Houston High School senior Spencer Thomas, who drew a sustained round of applause and praise from Hayes after reading his essay about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “What is Man” sermon.

“Thank you for having me. I think you did make one error though. The keynote speaker should have been Spencer Thomas,” Hayes said at the beginning of his speech. “He’s going somewhere, you can tell.”

There were also several local officials in attendance. Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome, council President Eric Chandler, Washington Mayor Scott Putnam and Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughn all gave welcoming remarks.

At the end of the program, Washington County Judge Traci McDonald-Kemp swore in the NAACP’s new officers and executive committee, including the chapter’s new president, David Gatling. Gatling addressed the crowd before the benediction.

“I’m humbled, honored and privileged to be elected as the president of the NAACP branch. We will do our best to meet the challenges facing our organization,” Gatling said.

House GOP demands visitor logs in Biden classified docs case
Newly empowered House Republicans are demanding the White House turn over all information related to its searches that have uncovered classified documents at President Joe Biden’s home and former office
  • Updated

WASHINGTON – Newly empowered House Republicans on Sunday demanded the White House turn over all information related to its searches that have uncovered classified documents at President Joe Biden’s home and former office in the wake of more records found at his Delaware residence.

“We have a lot of questions,” said Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

Comer, R-Ky., said he wants to see all documents and communications related to the searches by the Biden team, as well as visitor logs of the president’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, from Jan. 20, 2021, to present. He said the aim is to determine who might have had access to classified material and how the records got there.

The White House on Saturday said it had discovered five additional pages of classified documents at Biden’s home on Thursday, the same day a special counsel was appointed to review the matter.

In a letter Sunday to White House chief of staff Ron Klain, Comer criticized the searches by Biden representatives when the Justice Department was beginning to investigate and said Biden’s “mishandling of classified materials raises the issue of whether he has jeopardized our national security.” Comer demanded that the White House provide all relevant information including visitor logs by the end of the month.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Comer referred to Biden’s home as a “crime scene” though he acknowledged that it was not clear whether laws were broken.

“My concern is that the special counsel was called for, but yet hours after that we still had the president’s personal attorneys, who have no security clearance, still rummaging around the president’s residence, looking for things – I mean that would essentially be a crime scene, so to speak,” Comer said.

While the U.S. Secret Service provides security at the president’s private residence, it does not maintain visitor logs, agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Sunday.

“We don’t independently maintain our own visitor logs because it’s a private residence,” Guglielmi said. He added that the agency does screen visitors to the president’s properties but doesn’t maintain records of those checks.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Biden has independently maintained records of who has visited his residence.

Asked about Comer’s request for logs and communications regarding the search for documents, White House spokesman Ian Sams responded: “I would simply refer you to what Congressman Comer himself told CNN this morning: ‘At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents to be honest with you.’ That says it all.”

In that CNN interview, Comer had added that House Republicans did not trust the Justice Department to give the matter of Biden’s classified documents an appropriate level of scrutiny. The House Judiciary Committee on Friday requested that Attorney General Merrick Garland turn over information related to the discovery of documents and Garland’s appointment of special counsel Richard Hur to oversee the investigation.

White House officials “can say they’re being transparent, but it’s anything but,” the committee chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

White House lawyer Richard Sauber said in a statement Saturday that a total of six pages of classified documents were found from Biden’s time serving as vice president in the Obama administration during a search of Biden’s private library. The White House had said previously that only a single page was found there.

The latest disclosure was in addition to the discovery of documents found in December in Biden’s garage and in November at his former offices at the Penn Biden Center in Washington.

Sauber said that Biden’s personal lawyers, who did not have security clearances, stopped their search after finding the first page on Wednesday evening. Sauber found the remaining material Thursday, as he was facilitating their retrieval by Justice Department. Sauber did not explain why the White House waited two days to provide an updated accounting. The White House is already facing scrutiny for waiting more than two months to acknowledge the discovery of the initial group of documents at the Biden office.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said the Justice Department rightfully appointed special counsels to “get to the bottom” of the Biden classified documents matter as well as in a separate investigation into the mishandling of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.

But Raskin also stressed key differences between the two cases, including that Biden’s team readily handed over documents to the National Archives compared with Trump’s repeated resistance to such requests.

“We should keep a sense of proportion and measure about what we’re talking about,” Raskin told CNN.

Asked Sunday if his oversight committee would investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents as well, Comer demurred.

“There have been so many investigations of President Trump, I don’t feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump, because the Democrats have done that for the past six years,” he said.