By Cheryl Brown –
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been proud earlier this month at a breakfast sponsored by the California Legislative Black Caucus that honored his life’s legacy and four outstanding citizens. He would have beamed with pride to see how far his people and our society has come.
He would have been pleased to see the children, the Black boys and Black girls sitting with White boys and White girls while listening to a great speech by a Hispanic man. He would have been pleased that there were enough elected Black officials to form a caucus.
King would have seen the leadership of these leaders that focused on his memory, his life, his legacy and not only spoken about but that it was in a room with Governor Jerry Brown, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Attorney General Kamala Harris, …oh he would be proud to know the top cop in the state of California is an African- Asian American, a first in the state and in the nation. He would be proud of it.
If he could have seen how the Caucus, led by Curren Price, (26th SD) Chair of the Black Caucus effectively lead the team with pride, he would have seen the leadership deliberately include each other on program, working together and not trying to outdo each other: he would have seen, Mike Davis, Vice Chair (48th AD), and a majority leader, Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter (62nd AD), from the Inland Empire, Treasurer, and Holly Mitchell,(47th AD) secretary of the Caucus with roots in the I.E. and members Steven Brandford, (51stAD), Isadore Hall, II (52nd AD), the Chair Emeritus, Sandre’ Swanson (16th AD) and Rod Wright (25thSD).
I can just see Dr. King as he listened to the speech given by Speaker John A Perez. In his speech Perez quoted King, “ Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” Perez said, “I think this quote is an elegant statement of what it is to be an American, We are all tied together and whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. He said that King’s legacy has strengthened and made more beautiful the garment of destiny that is this country.”
Governor Jerry Brown, the Keynote Speaker referred to King’s legacy and gave respect to his memory.
He spoke of the difference in Sacramento returning after 20+ years. He also spoke fondly of King’s legacy and his work to help change the world. During Brown’s last administration the legislature dissolved investments in South Africa. He said how changed the state is because of King’s work.
The presentation of distinguished government service awards went to, Fredericka McGee, Esq, Counsel to Speaker Perez. McGee has a vast background in state politics, including, general counsel to Speaker Karen Bass, Fabian Nunez and Antonio Villaraigosa, chief of staff to two Assembly Members and many more.
Regina Evans-Jarrett is Chief of Staff to Jerome Horton, Chair of the Board of Equalization, and was a Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her background is law, she is a graduate from Hastings College of Law.
Under the Schwarzenegger administration, she was responsible for three of the state’s significant agencies, Business, Transportation and Housing, the State and Consumer Services Agency and the Chief Information Office overseeing $22 billion of the State’s budget and approximately 61,000 employees.
She was also the lead policy advisor for the Border Governors’ Conference, one of the world’s most influential bi-national convenings with an emphasis on Mexico/United States relations. Known as a change agent she was responsible in her hometown of San Diego to transform the Neighborhood Housing Association into a first class not-forprofit organization.
The Corporate–Community Advocacy Award was presented to Linda Crayton, the Regional Senior Director of Government Relations for Comcast. She has dedicated herself to serving her community and her church. Her consistent themes have been education, youth empowerment, women’s issues, community service and quality of life issues.
She is president of the District Mental Health board in the Sunset district of San Francisco. Her awards and her accomplishments read like a who’s who and in her spare time she is dedicated to the care of her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
One thing each of these women have in common is their relationship with former Speaker Willie Brown. They are members of the “Brown Mentees.” Brown has been there for them in their growth and development. He is the Dean and along with former Lt. Governor Merv Dymally and they both were recognized at the breakfast.
The final award, the Civil Rights Leadership Award was presented to Areva D. Martin, Esq. the founder and managing partner of Martin and Martin, LLP. Building a reputation for action, she is one of the premier female owned law firms in Los Angeles. She is known throughout the country from her regular appearances on the Dr. Phil Show as well as NPR, Court TV Radio Television and Fox News. She is also president of the Special Needs Network, Inc (SNN), a non-profit launched specifically to support families with special needs children. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Each recipient was honored to be recognized by the state’s elected leadership. And if Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been here he would have been well pleased but he would have also admonished the crowd to remember the poor; he would have spoken against war; he would have talked about jobs and the story of the sanitation workers in Memphis.
He would have said we must “rediscover our lost values” in the hearts and the souls of men and he would have been proud of the California Legislative Black Caucus tribute to his memory.
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