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SCLC Kicks Off King/Obama Week
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published January 1, 2009

The celebration of Dr. King’s birthday and Obama’s inauguration is part of SCLC’s New Vision for 2009.

The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated as a national holiday on the third Monday every year.  Usually it culminates weeks of fun-filled activities in remembrance of the slain civil rights leader.  In 2009, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Greater Los Angeles and SCLC Dream Foundation will join Dr. King’s birthday celebration with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

Commemorating both celebrations into one is only befitting since the inauguration of the nation’s first Black man as it president is a fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream which he did not live to see that MEN MUST NOT BE JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN BUT BY THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER.

In kicking off the week’s activities with a press conference on January 9, SCLC will close out the week with the 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Dinner Celebration where the organization will honor five individuals whose work speaks to the ideals of Dr. King prophetic vision of a better tomorrow and a brighter future for all people. The theme of the dinner will be a New Vision.

Rev. Eric Lee, president and CEO of SCLC said, “The election of the first Black president is a component of Dr. King’s dream that is coming into reality, not full realization of his dream but a partial realization.”  Many people have the misguided notion that the election of Obama is a panacea for all that ails Black people; nothing can be further from the truth.  It is the first step in a long and winding road ahead.

The honorees for the dinner are Rickey Ivie, a managing partner of Ivie, Mc Neill & Wyatt, one of the state’s largest and most successful Black law firms, will receive the Drum Major Award

Faith Culbreath, president of SEIU Security Officers United of Los Angeles (SOULA) Local 2006 that represents over 4,000 security officers in Los Angeles.  She gets the Rosa Parks Award

Willis Edwards, a veteran community activist, member of NAACP national board and former head of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP that started the NAACP Image Awards, will be the recipient of the President’s Award.

Bishop Noel Jones is the senior pastor of the City of Refuge Church that boast membership of about 20,000.  He is a prolific speaker and is deeply involved in the community.  It is most appropriate that he receives the Thomas Kilgore Prophetic Witness Award named after a pastor like himself.

Master P, born Percy Miller, and a super entertainer, who understands that it is important to exemplify the biblical quote, “to whom much is given, much is required.”  As a father, he is steadfast as a role model of how Black men must raise their children.  He appropriately will receive the Social Justice Entertainer of the Year Award. 

Verizon, the cellular phone giant will be awarded the Corporate Responsibility Award.     

“It is only appropriate to tie the celebration of his birth and his dream to his true vision,” Lee continued, “that we have elected a Black man, as president of the most powerful nation in the world.  If he were alive I think he would say that we have obviously come a long way in terms of race relations, but when you still have millions of people in poverty; when you still have a separate and unequal educational system; when you still have high rates of unemployment; then we still have a lot of work to do.”

The naming of the award recipients from the legal, labor, entertainment, activist and religious communities is a testament to the broad and diverse reach of Dr. King and President-elect Obama.

Categories: Local

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