MLK Local Celebrations
By Dianne Anderson
Different modes of celebration this month will keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy alive beyond the holiday, the street festivals, and twirling of batons — although that too holds its place in history.
Bishop Kelvin Simmons, acting president of the Inland Empire Concerned African American Churches, said MLK’s legacy continues in social action. Many groups today use the same strategies that worked in King’s day.
Peaceful mass protests have grown national social justice awareness, such as with the Black Lives Matter movement in addressing violence against Black males. The resistance is reminiscent of some of Dr. King’s methods of mobilization.
“It’s something that is not just central to one area, but across the nation,” he said.
On Monday, January 21, the IECAAC presents the 39th Annual Prayer Breakfast under this year’s theme, Living Legacy Legend. The event starts at 7:30 a.m., and is held at Cal State University, San Bernardino in the Coussoulis Arena. Tickets are $25.
This year, Simmons said IECAAC is also continuing to expand their social justice outreach with partner congregations for the youth, and the community with information and training. “[It’s] so they would not just benefit from Dr. King but understand what the struggles were. They can make sure that generations behind them will benefit from his legacy,” he said.
“There are things being done that we don’t think are being done because we don’t see masses of people at city hall, or halls of justice, but they are being heard,” he said. In the coming months, he said the community can expect IECAAC collaborations with Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE).
“The focus is on how to engage publicly,” he said. “We have taken the time to build social justice ministries inside of churches, to keep them informed on social issues.”
On Monday, January 21, the 18th Unity Breakfast also celebrates the Legacy of Freedom, Justice, and Equality of Dr. King Jr. and runs from 8:30-11:00 a.m. including gospel and live performances. The event is followed by an educational panel with workshops from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $38 in advance or $43 at the door at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport, located at 222 North Vineyard Avenue.
Organizer Trudy Coleman said the event draws hundreds of local community and dignitaries annually in tribute to MLK. This year’s theme, “Understanding the Roots of Racism” features keynote speaker Legrand Clegg II, who has also devoted his life in the fight for civil rights.
“[He talks about] people are hating and do not know why they’re hating because it’s the thing to do – my mama hated, granddaddy hated. It’s laying down generations of hate,” said Coleman, CEO/Founder of the Juneteenth Education Technology Mobile Arts Center, Inc.
Workshops after breakfast include the new District Attorney for San Bernardino, who will address 30 new state laws, and answer questions on the impact on the community.
Coleman, who has also organized the Juneteenth festival in Pomona for 27 years along with co-founder John Thompson, agrees that this generation is in step with MLK’s ideology. Marches, including the MeToo Movement, and many other groups, recognize how the leader was able to achieve national results.
“There was a realization that if they don’t march, there will not be change,” she said. “I know they refer to King and the battle and the struggle as something he went through, that they have a right to protest.”
Also on Monday, January 21, the Riverside African American Historical Society and Martin Luther King Visionaries is getting the community on the move for their 26th annual 5K Walk-A-Thon. Registration for the walk begins at 7:30 a.m. at $25 for walkers over 13, which includes a T-shirt. Children 12 and under must also register to walk, but are admitted free with an adult.
The walk starts at Bordwell Park’s Stratton Center, finishing at Riverside Community College’s Digital Library at 4800 Magnolia Avenue. Proceeds go toward the Riverside African American Historical Society in support of the Civil Rights Institute, Clarke & Grier College Scholarships, and upkeep of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue.
Also on Monday, January 21, San Bernardino Chapter of the American Red Cross is installing free smoke alarms in Rancho Cucamonga. Erin Fox, the Disaster Program Manager, said their MLK Day of Service is still seeking volunteers to help 223 households in a mobile home community get their free smoke alarms.
About 50 volunteers will be on hand from CSUSB. Volunteers must arrive by 8:00 a.m. to train residents on how to escape their homes in a fire. Fox said their MLK Day of Service Red Cross is part of their national campaign for vulnerable populations to reduce fire-related death or injury by 25% nationwide.
“Rancho Cucamonga was chosen because there was a fatality around this time last year, and we picked this location to install smoke alarms in the mobile home park,” she said.
For those wanting to carry the spirit of MLK beyond one day can attend a free commemorative lecture of hip-hop scholar, Dr. Bettina Love, at Garrison Theatre Scripps College.
Love is an associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia, and author of, “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.”
On Tuesday, January 29, the event is held in partnership with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee, the Office of Black Student Affairs, the Youth Mentoring Action Network, and KSPC Radio. The lecture runs from 6-7:00 p.m., located at 241 E. 10th Street in Claremont.