Saturday, January 17, 2009

Awards Dinner Fit For A King

Back in 2001, about an hour after U2 and Bono finished performing at Philips Arena, I was lucky enough to be returning to my car when the band members exited the venue for an impromptu autograph session with a few hundred waiting fans.

Seizing the opportunity for a photo and brief conversation with the band, when my turn came, I asked Bono, "Since you've sung multiple songs about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have you ever visited The King Center in Atlanta?" to which he replied, "No. No, we haven't. Where is it?"

Imagine my delight when just three years later The King Center announced that Coretta Scott King would present Bono with the Salute To Greatness Award for the singer's humanitarian work. I was lucky to again see Bono in person at that event held five years ago, Jan. 17, 2004.

I am still dying of curiosity whether Bono and his band mates DID visit The King Center after that conversation at Philips Arena -- will be sure to ask Bono the next time I see him.

It was on that evening that I was first in line to shake hands with Mrs. King on what turned out to be one of her last public appearances (somewhere out there, a helpful reporter from Chicago's Red Eye newspaper has a photo of Mrs. King and I posing as my camera batteries went out at that moment of introduction -- here's hoping the reporter and I may meet again so that photo will make it to my archive).

With thanks to The King Center communications team, tonight I will again attend their Salute To Greatness event (as a "registered media blogger") at which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (I like the sound of her new title) and Mr. S. Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A) will receive well-deserved honors. Will post photos and observations from the festivities here tomorrow, as well as footage from the big King Holiday celebrations on Monday.

It's going to be a day on, not a day off!

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