By Meagan Carter
Stars, community and elected officials attended the
celebration in honor of the naming of Las
Vegas Rd. after the mother of the civil rights
movement Rosa Parks in North Palm Springs.
Organizers of the event said they were pleasantly surprised
when about 200 people attended the event. The major sponsor, TV One
representative, Antoinette Brown-Leon said that she was pleased to see
such a great crowd on such a beautiful day.
The renaming of the street was the brainchild of Kris Benz,
who introduced Mistress of Ceremonies, Tanya Wright from the Fox Television
After and invocation from Rev. C.W. Parker, pastor of Ajalon
Missionary Baptist Church, the dynamic Community Choir led by Linda Crawford
had people feeling good.
Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden, welcomed visitors and read a
proclamation dedicating the day to the memory of Mrs. Parks.
Pearl Taylor Devers, a Palm
Springs native, represented the Rosa and Raymond Parks
Institute, and gave the report that they were pleased that Mrs. Parks was being
recognized in such a wonderful manner. Jarvis Crawford, Manager of the James O.
Center gave a welcome to the community he
represents and then said the magic words, "you are all invited for dinner at
the center following the ribbon cutting." But before the program ended and
dinner could be served there was much more to be heard. Rev. Dennis Brown caused the emotions to rise
when he recited a compilation of works by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. But News Anchor Larry Carroll gave a keynote
message that left attendees thinking, feeling and pondering the words he said
in the following excerpts:
"It was December 1st in 1955. There were automobiles, busses,
and people walking on the sidewalk. One of those people was tired that
afternoon. She decided to sit down and in that moment stood up for the pain and
fatigue of generations unable to speak their volumes of frustrations, despair
and disenfranchisement at a system that professed freedom, yet delivered
slavery, disenfranchisement, brutality, fear, hopelessness and abuse. Ordered
to rise for an able bodied man, she sat down and stood up for freedom, for
justice and for equality. On day on a street in America
face to face with itself and changed hatred into hope. Turned rage into
righteousness and defined heroism for common men women and children of every
color in every nation of the world. She never had a struggle to survive in the Coachella Valley,
but like her, thousands struggle daily in dignity to reach for America's
unique promises in this very special place. Rosa Parks, may you rest in perfect
peace. May your spirit live forever on this street in America and on
every street around the world."
Joseph Beaver, Rosa Parks Committee Chairman, a respected
member of the community and Executive Director of the Black Historical and
Cultural Society said he was pleased and surprised that so many came out for
the historic event. There were children and youth who were proud to be
identified with the name change and one group calling itself the Rosa Parks
Street Group, (staying away from the gang stigma). They wore black shirts with
Parks name and likeness on them. Posters of Parks were presented by artist
Jameel Rasheed and one from Artis
Lane was given to the committee by Willis Edwards
of the NAACP.
After a benediction by Rev. Rodney Croom, Pastor of First
Baptist Church a special solemn moment came. Just before the ribbon was cut
Elder Joe Benitez, of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians gave a touching
spiritual blessing. He said that the Indians in that area have always welcomed
Black people because of the oppression they had in common. He wanted to be
there to bless the land and the street cementing that relationship. He
requested no photos be taken and said that if photos were taken of the blessing
it would create an unhealthy response.
And then it was time, the ribbon was cut, and many marched
symbolically to the community center to have the lunch that was promised
Other sponsors were African Chamber of Commerce of Palm
Springs, Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Ajalon Missionary Baptist
Church, Black Historical and Cultural Society, Black History Month Committee,
Black Voice News, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, Canyon National Bank, City
of Palm Springs, Mayor Ron Oden, City Council Members, Engineering Director
David Barakian, Police Department, Chief Gary Jeandron, Desert Highland Gateway
Community Action Association, Elephant Bar and Restaurant, Palm Desert, Enzo's
Ristorante, First Baptist Church, Lily of the Valley Church of God in Christ,
New Bethel Church of God in Christ, Merchant Investment and Management Company,
Jim Bartlett, Negro Academic Scholarship Fund, Palm Springs Resort and Spa,
Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, Palm Springs Motors, Rosa & Raymond Parks
Institute for Self Development, Union Bank of California, 4th District County
Supervisor, Roy Wilson, 37th Senate District, Jim Battin, Assemblywoman Bonnie
Garcia, 80th Assembly District.
The committee members who were responsible for the
dedication were, Jarvis Crawford, Co-Chair, Angie Patrick, Secretary, Cynthia
Session, Treasurer and members Sandra Beaver, Kris Benz, Joe Ann Crawford, Joe
Grant, Janice Harrell and Selma Moloi.
to view pictures.