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January 18, 1999


CHICAGO -- Gov. George H. Ryan today said the spirit and deeds of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., live on in Illinois through programs that help young people maximize their strengths so they can reach excellence.

Ryan spoke at the Ninth Annual PUSH for Excellence Breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sponsored by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Ryan was greeted at the event by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., President and Founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Ryan singled out the PUSH for Excellence program as an initiative that is helping disadvantaged youth climb the ladder of success in school.

"As governor of the State of Illinois, my administration will continue to make every effort to be responsive to the needs of Illinoisans who are in need," Ryan said. "And it is through the programs that you have created, such as PUSH for Excellence, to which we will look for direction and guidance to achieve our goals."

Ryan indicated that one of Dr. King's strongest messages throughout his life was his instruction to others that they have an opportunity to help others get ahead and to put them on the path to success.

"As Dr. King said: 'If you can help somebody as you pass along; if you can cheer somebody with a word or a song; if you can show someone he's traveling wrong; then your living will not be in vain,'" Ryan said.

Founded in 1975 by Rev. Jackson, PUSH for Excellence is a program that encourages young people and their parents, through various means, to strive for excellence in school. The PUSH-Excel Scholarship Program is funded primarily through the proceeds of the Martin Luther King Day Breakfast.


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