By Anne Cheek La Rose
What a glorious day it was to celebrate Dr King’s birthday and his legacy! Sunny, not a cloud in the sky and warm enough for no jacket.
The celebration started in the morning with an ecumenical program at Faithful Central Bible Church, consisting of choirs, speeches and the most important ingredient of the day, our children –kindergarten to high school—giving their award winning speeches about Dr. King and his ideals. This aspect of King Day in Inglewood is the most important of all, in my opinion.
They work with their teachers, counselors, and parents to perfect their message. The students that compete must memorize their speeches, then compete to be chosen to deliver their speeches at the program. It’s rigorous and frightening to speak in front of the panel of five judges. It’s even more frightening when the big day comes and again, the speeches must be delivered, without stumbling or hesitation, in front of family and hundreds of nameless faces at Faithful Central. These are brave, fearless children.
Today’s youth only know Dr King through the words of their parents and teachers. For them, Dr. King’s teachings are ancient history; after all, he has been gone 49 years now. They take for granted the rights and freedoms of today. Their parents and grandparents can remember when segregation was the law of the land. Because this is ancient history to them, they must work to understand the deeper meaning of what they are saying. And we must all work to make sure these young folks, and those coming behind them, don’t forget the legacy of Dr. King.
Instead of a parade, Inglewood chooses to do a symbolic march to recall the times Dr. King marched during the 1960s. As happened last year, Stevie Wonder made an appearance at the program again this year. He also joined the march to the Forum.
Once at the Forum, the marchers and others were able to enjoy the sounds of KJLH radio, a wide variety of entertainments for the children, shop for clothing, jewelry and art, and learn about businesses and community organizations.
It’s important in today’s world, that all of us, every ethnicity, realize that Dr. King fought for freedom, equality, and mutual respect for all. This is the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Keeping it alive will be our challenge and our legacy.