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 show "24"..
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. Jesse Community 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 brought 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 earlier.
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.
Click HERE to view pictures.
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