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Aquarium of the Pacific Hosts 11th Annual African American Festival
By Sentinel Wire Service
Published February 15, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held a press conference Thursday, March 28, 1968 after a march in support of striking sanitation workers broke up in disorder. He was joined by Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. (left) and Dr. H. Ralph Jackson. He said people “on the sidelines” started the trouble, not the marchers. The three leaders vowed the protests would continue. At another press conference on March 29, before leaving for Atlanta, King vowed to return to Memphis to lead a peaceful mass march.

Celebrating the richness and diversity of African-American culture, the Aquarium’s eleventh annual African-American Festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, February 23 and 24, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The festival will feature African-American and African musicians, dance troupes, storytellers, cultural displays, crafts, and ethnic food, and artisans will be selling handmade craftwork. Festival performers include hip hop and break dancers, tap dancers, Mardi Gras second line dancers, jazz musicians, interactive drum circles, West African dancers, gospel singers, and storytellers.

 Officials from the Aquarium said they are inviting the public to witness its Heritage Award ceremony at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, February 24, honoring Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., a champion of civil rights who worked with Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. A third-generation Methodist minister, pioneer in the civil rights movement in the United States, and proponent of nonviolent action, Lawson is the honoree at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s 2013 African-American Festival. He learned about principles of nonviolence through the Fellowship of Reconciliation and during three years spent in India. When the two met at the Oberlin School of Theology, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged Lawson to come to the South and take an active role in the national civil rights movement. He moved to Nashville and began teaching workshops in nonviolent direct action. Dr. King called Lawson “the greatest teacher of nonviolence in America.” Throughout the 1960s Lawson was active in the civil rights movement in Memphis and in Nashville, where he was a Freedom Rider. He served as pastor for twenty-five years at the Holman Methodist Church in Los Angeles. He has continued to work on behalf of social justice causes, from labor and union issues to immigrant rights and international peace. For more information call (562) 590-3100 or visit

 The Aquarium of the Pacific, a nonprofit institution, is home to more than 11,000 animals and is dedicated to environmental education. The Aquarium features the Ocean Science Center, the Arctic & Antarctic: Our Polar Regions in Peril gallery, and the new June Keyes Penguin Habitat.. The Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (except Dec. 25 and during the Grand Prix in April). 



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