King's Gala Dinner to Cap off Week of Inspiration and ReflectionÂ Â Â D.L. HughleyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Assemblyman Isadore HallÂ Â Â Johnny GillÂ Â Speaker Karen BassÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Reginald Jones-SawyerÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Rev. Eric Lee
Many community members use the day to learn about our struggle, while others use the day to reflect on them and rejoice in the opportunities that we now have
By Jason LewisSentinel Staff Writer
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) will celebrate the 33rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday with a gala fundraiser on January 18, and it will honor Speaker Karen Bass, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, Mother Lillian Mobley, D. L. Hughley and Wells Fargo Bank. News anchor Marc Brown and Michelle Tuzee will be the emcees, and Johnny Gill will provide the entertainment.
The King holiday has different meanings to different people. For a younger person it is a day where he or she can learn about Dr. King, and get a sense of what generations before them had to go through to obtain the freedoms that we have.
It is important to reiterate what Rev. Eric Lee, president and CEO of SCLC has stated about Dr. King's work and his mission. He said, ""Dr. King recognized that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, so we had to attack injustice no matter who it was impacting. That is what SCLC is committed to doing. There are three initiatives that we're coming out with in 2010 and one of them is economic justice initiative where we are bringing in corporate law who will help small and minority-owned businesses acquire business loans and get government contracts to expand their capacity."
For people who have experienced the struggle, such as Larry Grant, who created the Kingdom Day Parade, it is a day to honor a man who was a driving force in creating a better life for black people.
Grant can recall the days where he was discriminated against. His emotions shows that he is still bothered by the treatment that he received, such as not being able to take his wife and children into certain restaurants, even as he is wearing a military uniform and on his way to being shipped out to a second war to defend this country.
Grant had never met Dr. King, but he felt the need to start a parade, in 1980 in San Francisco, to honor a man that had such a profound effect on not only his life, but also all minorities' lives.
"I wanted to honor him for all of the suffering and for all the things that he did," said Grant. "The parade is remembering what Dr. King stood for."
Grant recalls asking two black teenagers who Dr. King was, and neither of them knew anything about him. That really bothered Grant. That they do not know about the man who is in large part responsible for the freedoms that they have, and he was also upset at their parents for not teaching them correctly.
But Grant points out that a number of young blacks participate in the parade each year, and he is happy to know that they have learned a lot about Dr. King.
"Thousands and thousands of youngsters come out to the parade every year," Grant said. "They know all about him. When ABC television has interviewed some of the young people they are very knowledgeable about Dr. King."
The Kingdom Day parade has been one of many highlights of the holiday in Los Angeles for 25 years.
The Los Angeles Clippers are also getting into the spirit of the holiday. They have reached out to Sentinel Religion Editor Niele Anderson to coordinate their halftime show at their game this Monday against the New Jersey Nets.
"Dr. King's Holiday is a time for reflection for how far the African American race has come, and how much more we need to do," Anderson said. "The holiday is a day of service."
The partnership with the Clippers will be a community day.
"When I think of all the things that Dr. King did, he was an outside the four walls of the church type person," Anderson said. "On Community Day with the Clippers I've been given the opportunity to work with the faith community and local county and city agencies for national mentorship month. It is all about empowering our young people to know more and to do more and to do better. Especially in the African American community."
Mentorship agencies from all across the city, including Susan Taylor's Cares Movement will be participating on Clippers Day.
At halftime there will be a step performance by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which Dr. King was a member of. There will also be a rendition of Dr. Kings Drum Major Instinct speech, performed by spoken word artist J.O. Speaks.
Twelve-year-old Ramon Collins of City of Refugee will sing the National Anthem.
"Dr. King's Holiday is about giving back to our younger people, and empowering them to do better and to know better," Anderson said.
The schedule for SCLC King Week 2010 activities will be as follows:
JAN. 14 - Community mixer
JAN. 15 - Multi-faith prayer breakfast
JAN. 16 - Black worker center launch
JAN. 17 - LA Cares mentoring movement
JAN. 18 - 33rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Gala Fundraiser.