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Inland Empire Celebrates MLK Holiday

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Southland activities draws crowds celebration Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Cheryl Brown –

Crowds came out this past Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in both counties to participate in events around the cities. In Riverside, the annual Martin Luther King, Walk-A-Thon was held with a route change, from Stratton Center to Riverside Community College.

In San Bernardino, a capacity crowd filled the Inghram Community Center to celebrate the 31st Martin Luther King’s Birthday on Monday and to recognize deserving citizens who have done so much to advance issues affecting the community.

With founding member Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter standing at the door as she has for 30 of the 31 years of celebration, the program was rich with education, entertainment and fun as Wallace Allen acted as a great master of ceremonies.

Before there was a national holiday, San Bernardino was celebrating the day and school children were encouraged to attend before going to school.

That group consisted of the late Wilbur Brown, Vivian Nash, and Valerie Pope Ludlam, Ratibu Jacocks, Carter, Robert Rochelle, Sharon Cooper and Maria Brashear. The first breakfast was held at the San Hi Bowling Lanes and as the crowds grew larger, it traveled around the Westside community. The breakfast is the highlight of the celebration in the city.

Following the breakfast the group gathers around the statue in downtown San Bernardino for a short program to remember the way King brought a nation and a world together. He also brought the entire community of races and faiths together, that history former Rabbi Hillel Cohn again spoke of King’s ideals.

In 2004 the baton was passed to the pastor’s of the Inland Empire, and the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches (IECAAC) to over organizing the celebration.

A few years ago the breakfast honored deserving members of the community and in keeping with that tradition, this year, the Gertrude Wetzel (King statue founder) Award was presented to Terrance Stone, CEO of Young Visionaries, He said his business is “recycling cans”: that is the young people who are thrown away. He has been very successful at the non profit venture. Beyond the Boundaries Award, was presented to Linda Jackson Chief Operating Officer of NID a local arm of a national organization that helps families facing foreclosure.

Jackson knew she had to do something when church members were coming to her for help in the industry.

She went above and beyond to help those who found themselves many times victims of predatory lending. Chief Kilmer, head of the San Bernardino Police Department received the Public Service Award for the work he is doing to focus on safe communities. He thanked the public for allowing him to do his job, and that it is his desire to work with the community to keep it safe. The Trailblazer Award was presented to Jennifer Vaughn Blakley, CEO of Sundance Consultant Services.

Blakely is a capacity builder and is helping in the area of non profit, education, government and business development. She said that the Inland Empire is becoming better because of great ideas and funders like the Irvine Foundation who found organizations that help our community help themselves.

The Community Service Award was presented to Clyde Williams, Outreach and Recrui tment Coordinator, and Marco Cota, Dean of Counseling and Matriculation at San Bernardino Valley College. Sometimes referred to as the dynamic duo, their goal is to increase the college going rate in San Bernardino. They spoke of how great the need is for higher education.

Finally the Patriot Award was presented to James Ramos, Chairman of the San Manuel Mission Band of Indians and President of San Bernardino Valley College Board of Trustees. Ramos recounted his life as a young man growing up on the reservation. How they were so poor but organizations in the community helped to take care of their needs. He said that is why they give back now. He thanked the community for their support as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. He was particularly excited about his latest appointment by Governor Jerry Brown to the State Board of Education.

The day would not be complete without the youth. Deliah Allen CEO of Dance Voyage brought an emotional praise dance. The Hardy Brown College Prep School students left everyone spellbound with their outstanding performance of prose, and song.

The Martin Luther King message was outstanding as Pastor Terry Starks of Rubidoux Missionary Baptist Church spoke of King’s life, and his legacy.

As in every past year, the meeting adjourned and reconvened at the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Downtown San Bernardino.

The Chair of the event was Berverly Jones Wright, co- Chairing was Rev. Raymond Turner.

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