Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks during the Nassau County...

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano speaks during the Nassau County Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Uniondale. (Jan. 16, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Monday at a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration repeated President Barack Obama's call for a national service initiative to solve the nation's most pressing problems, including racism and poverty.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is 'What are you doing for others?,' " Mangano said, quoting the slain civil rights leader at Nassau's annual luncheon honoring King.

Speaking at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale for the county's 27th King luncheon, Mangano told more than 300 audience members: "We must work together to provide solutions rather than criticism ... to move our county forward rather than hold it back -- to put our citizens before politics and egos."

His comments came at the end the county's three-day commemoration that began Saturday with a play at the African-American Museum in Hempstead on the Mississippi murder of 14-year-old Emmet Till.

On Sunday night, four Freedom Riders attended an interdenominational service at St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church in Westbury. In the early 1960s, the civil rights activists rode interstate buses into the nation's segregated South to test the U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregated facilities at interstate bus stops. Riders often were beaten and imprisoned.

The Freedom Riders -- Lew Zuchman of Manhattan, Jean Denton-Thompson of Amherst, Mass., and Charles Myers and Winonah Beamer-Myers of Ellen, Fla. -- were honored at the luncheon.

Also honored as a Presidential Award recipient was Harry Singh, president of Bolla Oil Corp. in Garden City.

Others honored were Terenna Williams of Uniondale, CEO of Glory House Recovery Inc., a supervised residence program in Hempstead for women suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, or homelessness; Rachel Blackburn of Rockville Centre, a singer and music educator who leads the internationally known Hempstead Select Chorale; and George Santiago Jr. of Bethpage, president of Briarcliffe College.

Attendees at the luncheon included the state Assembly's Deputy Speaker, Earlene Hooper, (D-Hempstead); county comptroller George Maragos; Police Commissioner Thomas Dale; and Social Services Commissioner John Imhoff.

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