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Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day Celebrated In The Inland Empire

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Inland Empire

Let Freedom Ring from Palm Springs and Riverside to Rialto, San Bernardino and Redlands

By Cheryl Brown

It seems as though the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday was celebrated locally more this year than ever before.

Maybe because of his nonviolent stand against war or possibly because of the failing condition of many of our communities.

The activities seem to be gaining momentum both in number and the level of diversity of the participants. In most cases elected officials are leading the pack.

The day was celebrated across the Southland. In the Inland Empire, the longest running events were the San Bernardino Breakfast and MLK statue gathering and the Palm Springs march and program.

MLK celebrations began last week with Rialto school children setting the tone for the celebrations that followed. Children from Rialto Middle School marched around their campus singing We Shall Overcome, in the King tradition.

Herb Wesson in Palm Springs

In Palm Springs, the annual tribute was held at the Our Lady of Solitude Catholic Church where Speaker of the Assembly Herb Wesson was the rousing speaker.

The participants marched up Palm Canyon ignoring the hisses as they passed some who didn’t appreciate what King did for humanity.

In his speech Wesson said God gave MLK a three-day pass to come back. King enjoyed eating so he would be amazed at the microwave oven. He enjoyed talking, so just imagine what he’d do with a cellphone.

When he died there were only three channels on television, now we have the Internet. He’d be on the Internet trying to keep us from going to war. He’d be proud of Black, Brown, White, Yellow, and us in this room together.

But he said he’d be sad with the burnt churches, synagogues, and temples. After people gave their lives to vote he would be sad we don’t go out to vote.

But with all its faults he’d say America is the greatest country on earth. He’d tell us to remember the past but look forward to the future.

This is the 22nd year that the community has come together for this event said one of its founders Mr. Joe Beaver.

S.B. 23rd Annual Breakfast

The African American Concerned Churches hosted the 23rd Annual Prayer Breakfast in San Bernardino. The wonderful program included: Mayor Judith Valles, Councilwoman Betty Anderson, singers Beverly Haynes, Rev. Charles Graham and a beautiful recitation of I Have A Dream by Rev. Dennis Brown.

With the wonderful program it just blew away the audience of about 300 people when Pastor Anthony Pascal gave the keynote address. He spoke from the Old Testament in Exodus when Pharaoh told the midwives to kill all of the male children.

Pascal is the Pastor of 16th Street Seventh Day Adventist Church. The fiery preacher’s message was entitled, “Look Who’s Sitting on the Delivery Stool.”

After setting the story in place by talking about his own children’s birth he said, Pharaoh knew the person who was going to save their people was going to come from the slave group. Not knowing it would be Moses he just had all of the children killed.

The midwives sat on the delivery stool and obeyed God. "Without disobeying the Pharaoh, Moses would not have been born," said Pascal.

"It is important to train our children to understand what God is trying to do," he said. Then giving practical advice he told the audience, "be careful what you say to your children."

Pascal said look and see who is sitting on the delivery stool because the devil wants to kick God’s people off the stool. Who is sitting on the stool when fathers abandon their children or mothers don’t take care of their children?

Too many children are downtrodden. They need someone to believe in them and God has placed you on the delivery stool," he said.

Awards were presented to the committee who for 22 years organized the MLK day. They were Wilma “Amina” Carter and Ratibu Jacocks, Valerie Pope Ludlam, Wilbur Brown, Robert Rochell, Beverly Jones Wright and postumustly to Vivian Nash Dukes, who died last year.

Other area events held were: a MLK march sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in Victorville; MLK Volleyball Tournament at San Bernardino Valley College; The Rialto Black History Committee, Inc held its 18th Annual Luncheon at the S.B. Hilton where the guest speaker was Rita Jackson and youth speaker Rudy Garcia-Tolson.

Ray Culberson Speaks For Rialto Luncheon

The Rialto Freedom and Cultural Society held its 15th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr luncheon and dedicated it to Dashanay Smith-Wortham, a student who died recently after a freak accident, when she fell out of a moving SUV.

The guest speaker for the day was Ray Culberson, a tireless educator who uses his streetwise experiences to get the attention of students. He is the Director of Youth Services for the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Congressman Joe Baca, 42nd District. Other awards were presented to Dr. Robert Fairley, Pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; Burrell R. Handy, III, Vice President of Operations for M.H.M. and Associates, Management, Consultants and Grant Writing company; Aaliyah Harkley, for her youth leadership through the City of San Bernardino’s Parks and Recreation programs; Linda L. Smith, President of the Four D- Success Academy, an acredited vocational school, and Willie Clark posthumously.

Students receiving scholarships were, Dominique Lynette Fitzhugh, Christopher Jordan Prytherch, Tehani Nicole Brown, Davil Jackson, III, Alisha Michelle Jones, Veronica Kwenisha Perry, (all of Eisenhower High School),Rebecka Rianne Lopez, Rialto High School, Denise Ugalde, Zupanic High School and Macco Adams.

The president of the organization is Dr. Ruth Floyd Johnson.

MLK in Redlands Well Organized

Nearly 100 people attended a MLK holiday celebration at the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA.

The theme for the event "Reflection on the Celebration" was well organized and an inspiring event due in part to the large number of youth in attendance.

It focused on unity, sacrifice and the freedoms we enjoy.

The program began with a march from the Administration Building across the campus quad to Watchorn Hall while singing We Shall Overcome. "That’s what got my attention," said Vickey Dumas, a newcomer from Cincinnati, OH.

The event was a first for Tyrone Johnson who said that he couldn’t wait to experience this again next year.

The program culminated the weekend activities held at the university. On Sunday Rev. Reggie Beamon, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) spoke about King. He grew up playing with the King children in Atlanta, traveling often from his Compton home to visit them in Georgia.

The Monday program was highlighted by the youth. Because of the interracial group of students intricately involved, Dumas commented that she feels our future is intact. "They will make a difference in the future," she said.

Eric Guzman, a U of R student spoke about sacrifice and said of King, "He exchanged a life of comfort for one of confrontation. One of pleasure for pressure. He sacrificed his freedom for all people to have a dream and fairness. King continued to sacrifice while pastoring at Dexter Ave. Church in Birmingham, AL.

The song "Freedom" brought White, Black and Hispanic students together in the tradition of MLK. The Cope Middle School students were Sasha Cano, Matt Walsh and Jenny Wessels.

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