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"Where Do We Go From Here?"

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Special to BVN

MLK Speech by Rev. Paul S . Munford, M.Div. Pastor of New Joy Baptist Church, Riverside

As we have discussed the church’s involvement in social justice, let us not forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a product and a prophetic voice of the church. In his book, Strength To Love, Dr. King says, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.”

Today in these difficult and tough economic times and political upheaval, the church must continue to be a voice of justice and equality.

Dr. King wrote a book in 1967 called Where Do We Go From Here Chaos Or Community?

He has a chapter on “Where Are We?” and he has a chapter on “Where Are We Going?” Dr.

King brings to our attention that after the Voting Rights Bill of 1965 there was a white backlash of political gains for those who opposed civil rights and equality for Blacks.

The backlash consisted of the murder of white and Black civil rights workers. The backlash consisted of discrimination, brutality and unfair treatment of Blacks. Unfortunately, when political progress is made it is often met with hostility and resistance.

We cannot become contented and complacent because of the election of President Barrack Obama. I believe we are witnessing an Obama Backlash.

The rhetoric that is being used against the Health Care Reform is that it is a government take over. No that is not the real problem! The backlash is all about stopping President Obama and to make sure that a Black man never be elected president ever again. Yes, it is true that President Obama received votes across racial lines. But there is a great and aggressive effort to cool its enthusiasm by demonizing Him with highly racial charge overtones and tactics.

As you know, Dr. King opposed the Vietnam War. One of his main reasons was that he believed that the billions of dollars for the war took away money to help the poor. Yes, with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan costing billions of dollars, we as the church must remind the nation of the needs of the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the high cost of health care and the millions who don’t have it, the ruins of our cities, and the high cost of education leaving the poor and many minorities out of reach.

Where do we go from here? I want to say to the church community that we are all in this together. We must rid ourselves of division along denominational lines and size of congregations that keep us from being unified and working together as a mighty force against injustice and inequality. We must become one in the spirit. So let us walk together, work together, pray together and love together. Until we do what Dr, King’s sister, Fannie Hamer, said “that we must raise America up to a higher standard. Our coming together as one will help us to raise America up beyond political party, beyond race, beyond social and economic status. Let us raise America to live out its creed that all men are created equal and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

So let us as the church be not ashamed to tell the world that we believe that God is a God of love and justice. Tell the world that we believe as the hymn says, “In times like these you need a Saviour. In times like these you need an anchor be very sure, your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock! This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s The One.”

Learn how Martin Luther King Jr.'s words impacted a nation

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Ben Kamin never met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. but he credits Dr. King with his decision to become a rabbi.

“The inspiration of his voice made me realize a clergy person can actually make the whole world his pulpit and turn social justice into a ministry.”

Kamin, a nationally known clergyman, interfaith counselor and author of seven books and hundreds of articles, will be teaching a six-week course “A Critical Survey of the Speeches and Words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Their Psychological and National Effect” through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute sponsored by UCR Extension.

Classes will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, 39-000 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage beginning Jan. 27 and continuing through March 3. Osher classes are specifically designed for adults, 50 years and older.

The class will tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1955 through 1968, through selected words and speeches of Dr. King. Kamin will focus on the psychological and spiritual factors affecting and driving Dr. King’s words throughout his lifetime.

“The course will portray that one inspired individual can actually change the course of a whole nation and value system by virtue of his words,” Kamin said.

Students may be surprised to hear about Dr. King’s personal struggles with spirits and depression that affected his outlook and what he had to say.

Locals Donate And Pray For Haiti's Earthquake Victims

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Perris man waits to hear from family members

By Chris Levister –

On the outside Redeemer Apostolic Fellowship may look like an abandoned storefront. But for native Haitians like Oda Lamarre it is respite for the soul. Worship services on Sunday were very emotional as details of the horror in Haiti unfolded. Lamarre kept glancing at his cell phone, moving it from his right hand to jacket pocket while cradling his four year old daughter Jessia.

“I feel numb right now,” he said as he clutched his phone.

Lamarre, a 43 year old surgical nurse who lives in Perris was waiting for word on whether his aunt Glassie, cousins Jake and Vinda who live in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince had survived the earthquake. In the wake of the devastating quake, Lamarre has frantically tried to call friends who lived near his cousins or worked at Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital where Glassie was a social worker.

The silence is all the more unnerving he said since Jake and Vinda are adept at using mobile communications, Facebook and Twitter.

“Before the quake we texted or talked by phone at least once a week. They planned to visit this summer.”

Like many of the thousands of Haitian immigrants in the United States, Lamarre stayed up all night after the earthquake, fielding and making phone calls, crying, praying and crying some more.

“I asked God what has happened to them, but I have no word. It’s too enormous to comprehend. It’s like a dream, a sci-fi movie.”

Members and concerned residents gathered at the church to pray, plan and burn through calling cards, said Lamarre. “We’ve made a lot of calls, but most of them never went through. Text and e-mail messages, still no word, mostly you wait and hope. You can’t sleep. It’s so frustrating.” He seemed to lose himself in the melodic music and prayer. The sermon in French, Creole, and English provided comfort and hope.

“We need a miracle,” he said scratching his head. Lamarre was born in 1966 and came to the United States in 1989. “Lord, just give us a sign. Why Haiti? Why put such a burden on people who have suffered so much?”

His thoughts raced back to his impoverished boyhood land. “The people are poorer than poor. The government and infrastructure were in bad shape before the quake, now this.”

Kneeling on the ground, congregant Cassie Mozingo asked God to watch over the people of Haiti. “It’s just so unfair Lord. In a blink of an eye it’s wiped out. Let the hope shine through,” she said. Mozingo also a social worker signed up to serve as a volunteer so she could put her training to good use in Haiti. Lamarre says he received an e-mail from a friend who works for the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. That man described the situation as surreal, but said he and his family survived the quake. Lamarre whose parents operated a restaurant in Los Angeles’ ‘Little Haiti’ community during the 90s is urging people to make cash donations to funds and organizations like the Red Cross, the United Way and Yele Haiti, Wyclef Jean’s grassroots organization or the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (former President’s Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

He said while these organizations are in a better position to get emergency help to the people. “My concern is, after the first wave of volunteers go home, the real suffering begins.”

Lamarre met with church members and others to talk about ways the Inland community can help the victims abroad. “I’m laying out the groundwork for the rebuilding and future stability in Haiti.” Congregants, church leaders and visitors placed offerings in an African grass basket which was blessed and placed among several boxes of donated clothing, can goods and bottles of lotion, aspirin and cough medicine.

Larmarre is encouraged by the worldwide response to his native Haiti. “It warms my heart to see so many people wanting to help.”

Governments worldwide have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic, or left hovering in the air. The non-functioning seaport and impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.

The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it had raised Haiti airport’s daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 210. Meanwhile the U.S.’s oldest Black medical organization, the National Medical Association (NMA) and the oldest Black Greek letter organization Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. have launched separate appeals to aid Haiti earthquake victims. NMA President Willarda V. Edwards, M.D., MBA, says there is a great need for Creole speaking medical professionals. “Monetary donations are the most critical need now to ensure that aid organizations-NGOs on the ground and the U.S. government have enough resources to meet demand. Depending on specialties, there will be opportunities to work in existing hospitals, on the hospital ship USNS Comfort and at emergency field hospitals.”

Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc. General President Herman ‘Skip’ Mason made an urgent appeal for financial donations through the fraternities’ on-line disaster relief fund.

“To date, we have identified more than 30 Alpha brothers with family ties to Haiti. Our plan is to provide each documented family in Haiti a donation of cash to assist them in their recovery. Brothers, we will have faces to go with our donations. “We are our brother’s keeper?”

Beware Haiti Relief Scams; How To Avoid Them

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By BVN Staff –

Whenever there is a natural disaster, there are two things you can count on, says Art Taylor, president of the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, a nonprofit consumer group.

“The first is the generosity of Americans to donate time and money to help victims, and the second is the appearance of poorly run, and in some cases fraudulent, charities.”

More than 400 Internet addresses related to Haiti have been registered since January 12’s devastating quake. “Some of those websites may be legitimate, but many others are fraudulent,” says Taylor.

“Not only do Americans need to be concerned about avoiding fraud, they also need to make sure their money goes to competent relief organizations that are equipped and experienced to handle the unique challenges of providing assistance,” Taylor says.

Here are five tips, culled from information from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Better Business Bureau, to ensure your donation reaches its destination:

· Stick to well-known, reputable charities. The American Institute of Philanthropy recently published their list of top Haiti relief organizations, and Charity Navigator evaluates charities with a four-star rating system.

The BBB also accredits charities based on fund-raising practices and how the charities spend the funds.

· Be cautious when donating online. Scammers can put up a website and open a PayPal account overnight, so be wary of donating on sites you don’t recognize.

Also remember that most nonprofit groups’ Websites end in .org rather than .com. Don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails, and don’t click links or open attachments from people you don’t know since they may contain computer viruses.

· Donate to organizations, not individuals. Be skeptical of individuals who approach you – in person, on phone, or via e-mail – asking for money. Some may pose as an official or claim to represent a charity.

· Check the charity out. Find out if it has on-the-ground presence in Haiti, and ask how your funds will be used. If a charity doesn’t already have staff in Haiti, it may find it difficult or take a long time to provide immediate assistance.

· Give money, not food, clothing, or equipment. Although well intentioned, donations of food and clothing are inefficient ways to help victims quickly, when transportation and distribution are taken into account. Give money and let the experts determine how best to use it.

The FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) have established a telephone hotline to report suspected Haitian earthquake relief fraud. The number is (866) 720-5721. The phone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also e-mail information directly to disaster@leo.gov

MLK Events Around the Inland Empire

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Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. events were held this past weekend in Riverside and San Bernardino County.

In Riverside, the 17th annual Walk-A-Thon was held with over 400 walkers braving the clouds and rain from Stratton Center to downtown Riverside including Mayor Ron Loveridge, Councilmen Andy Melendrez, Rusty Bailey, and Chris Mac Arthur.

In San Bernardino, the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches held their annual MLK Breakfast and honored Norm Nunez, Mayor Patrick Morris, Helen Harris, and Dr. Margaret Hill.

In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following proclamation:

Few individuals have had as powerful an effect on American society as Martin Luther King, Jr. His fearlessness and determination in the face of incredible opposition changed the course of our nation’s history. Growing up, discrimination was a way of life for him, but he gave his life to make sure it wasn’t the way of the future.

Dr. King’s impact on African-Americans and millions of others in the United States and around the globe resonates today. His words continue to inspire and his ideals remain at the heart of the movement for equality and fairness in our world.

He once said that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” These were words Dr. King lived by. Certainly his speeches are legendary and influential, but it was his willingness to take action that made him great and transformed our country.

In that same spirit of action, I ask the people of California to transform their communities by making this year’s celebration of Dr. King’s life a day of service.

Many of us will not be working on this holiday, so let’s make it a day on instead of a day off. We have limitless opportunities to make a difference, and if you need some ideas, www.CaliforniaVolunteers.org is a wonderful resource. What we choose to do may not have a worldwide impact like Dr. King’s actions, but it can change the world for those we serve.

As we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, I thank all those who embrace his work and advance the noble causes of equality, civil rights and service.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim January 18, 2010, as the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 14th day of January 2010.

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