U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and California Attorney General Kamala Harris highlighted a spirited worship saluting the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The multi-faith and multi-cultural service on January 19 was co-sponsored by Second Baptist Church, led by the Rev. Dr. William S. Epps, and the Political Clergy Council (PCC), headed by Minister Tonette Henry.
Other participants were Rabbi M. Beaumont Shapiro, film producer, Henry Garcia, Department of Justice Deputy Director of Community Affairs Brandon Kiel, and members of the Korean American and Pakistani American communities. Also, Assemblymen Reginald Jones- Sawyer and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, L.A. Councilman Curren Price, and Los Angeles NAACP President, Leon Jenkins were in attendance.
Acknowledging the impact of Dr. King╒s efforts, Waters said, "It is important that we recognize the leadership of Dr. King. Had it not been for Dr. King, none of us would be where we are today."
She also noted the recent passing of L.A. Board of Education member, Marguerite LaMotte by emphasizing, "Marguerite was an educator, who had the experience of the classroom and as a principal. Marguerite fought for all of us, even at times when we were not with her.
"We must refocus on education and whoever fills that seat, we must be there with them to give the support they need to represent the children in our community," said Waters.
Speaking on similar themes, Harris said, "Dr. King's legacy is defined by his fight against racism, but he was just as passionate about the battle for greater economic equality.
"As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 'War on Poverty,' the gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' continues to grow. We need to tackle underlying issues like incarceration and education if we are to ensure economic equality," she said.
Harris announced that her office has launched the Division of Recidivism, Reduction and Re-Entry to rehabilitate first-time offenders and decrease the "revolving door between lower-income, minority communities and prisons...that cost the state millions of dollars, but the human cost is even greater."
In the area of education, Harris said her department is committed to reducing California╒s truancy level by "working with schools, parents and police to ensure children get to class." She is also developing legislation targeting truancy prevention.
Requesting the faith community's support, Harris observed, "The church has always been a source of education and support for young parents. In that tradition, it's important that we teach children about reading so that our children don't begin kindergarten a step behind.
"I strongly believe that the church is so powerful in our community in terms of being able to teach and educate with love, without judgment, but with a certain toughness."