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20th Anniversary MLK Walk-A-Thon & Rock-A-Thon Celebration

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By Natasha Ferguson

The weather was picture-perfect as hundreds of diverse participants walked together in the 20th Anniversary MLK Walk- A-Thon/Rock-A-Thon hosted by The Riverside African American Historical Society and the Martin Luther King Visionaries.

The event, which was held Monday, January 21st, started with a warm-up at Bobby Bonds Park. The theme was “Dr. King’s Dream…No One Left Behind”. This year, prewalk festivities included a special presentation titled; “Hitmakers, Heroes and Homeruns,” a music presentation with baseball stories about Negroe League players by Byron Motely.

Colorful bright blue t-shirts filled the streets as the procession left from the Eastside and marched down 14th Street stopping briefly at the MLK monument on Main Street, then continuing through the streets of downtown Riverside ending at Riverside City College. Immediately following the walk, the celebration continued with a “Rock-A-Thon’ hosted by the Riverside Youth Council featuring local youth bands at the RCC Digital Library from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Booths from various organizations were also present including the Riverside Historical Society, Riverside County Mental Health Department and more. Participants enjoyed refreshments including delicious southern-style greens and cornbread courtesy of the NAACP-Riverside Branch, as well as pizza.

In addition, Dr. Richard Olds, dean of UC Riverside School of Medicine, addressed the crowd sharing personal heartwarming stories of his family’s encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Other presentations included awards handed out by honorary chairs Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, Latino Network chair, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, and Freddy Lopez, founder of Art of the P.O.O.R., followed by a presentation from The Dubois Institution Rights of Passage Class of 2013 led by Dr. Abdulmumin.

The MLK celebration was well attended by various city officials including; Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Council members Andy Melendrez, Mike Gardner, Paul Davis, Chris MacArthur and a host of other community leaders and clergy.

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