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Message of diversity rings true

Five days after the 20th anniversary edition of the annual 'Keep the Dream Alive' tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., producer Ken Berry said he already has begun working on next year's program.

Berry is secretary of the World Arts Foundation, the nonprofit organization that produces the annual program. About 4,000 people attended this year's event on Monday at Jefferson High School.

'It was beautiful. I saw people of all colors, all ages, school children, senior citizens, people in wheelchairs Ñ everything you could imagine,' Berry said.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Portland's population is 78 percent white, but the annual daylong celebration included black, Hispanic and Asian artists and speakers. Many of the performance groups, including the Jefferson Dancers and the Royal Priesthood Choir, were showcases of diversity.

Berry said that community members also gathered and mingled in the Exhibitor's Pavilion set up in the cafeteria of the school, at 5210 N. Kerby Ave.

'Old friendships were renewed and new ones were formed,' he said.

Ñ Jim Redden