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Building Upon the Dream:  A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Forum   
By  William A. Burke, Ed.D. Special to the Sentinel  
Published December 28, 2017

SCAQMD Chairman, Dr. William A. Burke with 2017 MLK Forum keynote speaker Maryum “May May” Ali (daughter of the late Muhammad Ali). (Photo By: South Coast Air Quality Management District.) 

The South Coast Air Quality Management District will host its “Building Upon the Dream: Day of Service Forum” in the Tuskegee Room of The Proud Bird Event Center near Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, Jan. 13. 

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson will emcee our event and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will give the keynote speech.  Civil rights activist and successful businessman, Danny Bakewell, Sr. will be honored with SCAQMD’s Environmental Justice for All Award.   

This forum aims to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight for justice for all and show how his dream can be materialized through the efforts of SCAQMD and its environmental justice partners to clean the air.

Dr. Burke chats with SCAQMD Executive Officer Wayne Nastri. (Photo Credit: South Coast Air Quality Management District)

 

I’m pleased that SCAQMD is sponsoring the MLK observance for the fourth time.  It is my hope that participants will be inspired and encouraged to get involved and to be optimistic about the positive results that activism can bring to their communities. 

Another great example of Dr. King’s legacy is Environmental Justice for All Award honoree Danny Bakewell, Sr.  He has been on the front lines in communities of color for social and environmental justice for decades.  He started out as a community organizer and eventually rose to become the CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade and co-founded the National Black United Fund.  The Brotherhood Crusade is a 48-year-old grassroots organization with a vision of improving quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of low-income, underserved, under-represented and disenfranchised individuals in South Los Angeles.   

Danny is one of many in our community who have followed in Dr. King’s footsteps to continue the fight for justice.  King’s message is universal. It challenged all people to understand that if our society is striving for fairness, that achievement has little value if our country is divided where certain communities take the brunt of air pollution while other communities benefit from economic progress.   

Dr. Burke greets attendees. (Photo By: South Coast Air Quality Management District)

King’s message is the same with what environmental justice advocates seek to gain for communities affected by air pollution.  They want fairness that other communities share in the burden of air pollution.  We must challenge industries to seek ways to be economically viable while being conscious that the pursuit of profits should never harm or disenfranchise communities. 

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