Second Baptist Church in Riverside was the site of a historic event when Martin Luther King III installed officers for the Riverside County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded by his father Martin Luther King, Jr.
The church was full of people from various ethnic backgrounds. The new president covered his bases by enlisting the support of NAACP, churches and other local organizations. James Baylark has been talking about this night for a long time and finally the night was here. King was on the podium and community leaders, pastors, students and various religious denominations were in the audience waiting to hear a word from the son of one of the greatest men who ever lived.
The program, although it was long, kept the congregation riveted to their seats.
As Master of Ceremonies, Reggie Beamon, a childhood friend of Kings, strategically and masterfully moved the program along.
Baylarks dynamic pastor, Rev. Christilene Whalen-Weaver, pastor of Quinn AME in Moreno Valley, gave the invocation and introduced Baylark.
Baylark introduced King and said there is room in Riverside for another organization because there is so much work to be done.
"It is an incredible day to come back to Riverside to join in the crusade," King smiled and continued, I better leave that alone. He was probably referring to the time he came to Riverside and was arrested in a Tyisha Miller protest. Or the time he was enroute to the airport and was harassed by a Riverside police officer that stopped the driver. But he said he didnt want to go there. Maybe it was because of his visit to the much protested Martin Luther King, Jr. High School. "It is one of the finest high schools Ive ever seen," he said, as it proudly carries his fathers name. "It is my hope that it will be maintained at the current level," said King.
King spoke about the issues that affect Americans in general and Blacks and other people of color in particular. He said conditions that existed when his father gave the I Have A Dream speech in 1963 still exist today. "Were working on it but we have a long way to go: 44 million have no health insurance, 12 million are homeless, 2 million are in jail and of that 2 million Blacks make up 13% of the population but 50% of the prison population. The system is flawed and the responsibility is on us to train up a child. We are not raising our children! We are letting other forces raise them," he said.
"September 11 was a frightening, tragic day, but we wouldnt have to worry about terrorism if we treated people right," he said shifting gears. He also made an observation about the current state of the Bush War. "Why did they stop looking for bin Laden and now go after Saddam. Its all about the oil. Follow the dollars. Why is it the hijackers came from Saudia Arabia and they bombed Afghanistan?
"We must be headlights not taillights. Headlights lead the way."
The new officers he installed were: Rev. James Baylark, President; Patsy Mitchell, 1st V.P; Steve Kepler, 2nd V.P.; Roosevelt Tate 3rd V.P; Kingsley Jones, Chairman; Karen Leland, Treasurer; Carmen Baylark, Secretary and Rev. Willie S. Harris, Chaplain
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