Martin Luther King, III had never really heard of the Inland Empire except that since 1981 San Bernardino has had a statue of his father the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
But in recent years and weeks King III has been in the area more than he ever imagined. He was in Riverside, when he was arrested for civil disobedience in finding justice for Tyisha Miller two years ago. Before that, his organization, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), held hearings on police brutality at Kansas Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church. He is the organizations national president following in his fathers footsteps. He also follows Ralph Abernathy and Joesph Lowery.
Last month, he held an installation of officers for the Riverside/Moreno Valley chapter of the SCLC at Second Baptist Church. This week he returned to install officers for two new chapters: one in Victorville the other in San Bernardino.
In Victorville the new chapter president is Rev. Randall Osburn, Ex V.P. of SCLC and in San Bernardino his long time friend installed Rev. Reginald Beamon.
A great program was presented prior to the installation and keynote address. Pastor Billy Bohannon of the CME Church led the opening prayer and the chaplain James Espinosa read the scripture. The house was brought down with the praise and worship team lead by Sandy Beamon of Life Church of God in Christ located in Rubidoux. Mo Poetic, was outstanding, presenting raw poetry that gave all glory and honor to God. Rev. Dennis Browns recitation of the last part of the "I Have A Dream" speech was well received.
There were selections from the Temple Missionary Baptist Church and Pastor Raymond Turner was warm and inviting as the programs master of ceremonies.
Frank Stallworth acknowledged the offices of local elected officials, State Senator Nell Soto, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Joe Baca were represented.
However Assemblyman John Longville had to be in the presence of the son of Martin Luther King. It was King who gave him the impetus to become an activist. Longville told the audience that he dropped out of school upon hearing of Kings death in 1968. He came to California and Rialto was the first city to have a Martin Luther King holiday. He also became the chapters first Life Member pledging $1000 on the spot. Not to be out done was Mayor Judith Valles who said she was not only honored to be in Temple Baptist but also to pledge a $1000 Life Membership. "I cant let Longville come into my town and be first," she said. The friendly rivalry netted the SCLC $2,000.00.
In presenting his brother, Darryl Beamon told all the family secrets of their fights and their fun and ended by saying how proud he was of his brother.
He (Reggie) said, "Dope dealers are not role models." He plans to be very active in the lives of children and youth of the community. "We have to be about doing the work of the Lord. We have to come out of the pulpits and become the role models in the community," said Beamon.
Beamon said he met King when they were both children.
In his speech King gave lessons to Black folks about supporting each other in business. He talked to the mayor and the elected officials about their roles, the voting situation in our country, and in non-violent activities.
"We must learn to be more than consumers," he told the full church." We have to learn to spend money with ourselves. Irish support Irish, Jewish support Jewish, we must get away from the mistrust we have for each other because it was taught to us. Learn to turn to each other not against each other," he said in the first lesson.
Calling Bush the President "select " because he was selected by the Supreme Court, he gave a lesson as to how so many voters were disenfranchised. "95,000 people were purged from the rolls in this scheme. A company from Murrietta, GA was hired to find people with common names both African American and Latino. Say they found a Bill Smith who had never been in trouble but he could be purged because there was someone with that name. They unfairly purged enough people so that they were disenfranchised, he said.
He chided the news media. He said that they promote what the government wants you to hear.
"We allow other people to think for us and we must think for ourselves," said King.
Speaking about non-violence he said that there are six steps:
1. Information gathering; 2. Educating the public, 3. Personal commitment from the victimized; 4. Negotiate with adversaries, if it doesnt work then; 4. Civil disobedience is next and last is; 6. Reconciliation, because you cant leave things hanging.
"SCLC is also against war. There has to be a better way. We gave them (Iraq) 95% of the weapons they have. There is something wrong with replacing a head of state. How arrogant is that," said King. He said that we are going to have to take the responsibility for our actions in training Osama bin Laden. But if we treat people with respect we wont have terrorism., he continued.
We also need to take responsibility for our own children, "Train Up a child....Parents must raise children not entertainers and athletes.
King also put banks on notice. "It is crazy to put every churchs deposit in the bank on Monday and members can not get a loan. Deposit your money in institutions that will serve our community," said King.
King had a few words for the prison system, "prisons pray on poor people, whether they are black brown or white. Sixty percent of people are in for non-violent offenses and Blacks are disproportional represented. Fifty percent of the people in prison are Black but we are only 13% of the population. We must change our nation and make it better for all people," said King.
He installed, Minister Reginald Beamon, President; Frank Stallworth, Vice President; James Tate, Parliamentarian; Beatrice Jews, Secretary; James Brewer, Treasurer; and James Espinosa, Chaplin.
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