Believers in God and social justice gathered for the 63rd Anniversary and Founder’s Day Celebration sponsored by the Southern California Leadership Conference of Southern California on Jan. 5.
The program helped to usher in the multitude of King Legacy Month 2020 activities that SCLC-SC plans to present during January in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who established the organization in 1957.
Held at Ward AME Church in Los Angeles, the service attracted youth, adults and worshippers of all ethnicities to honor the past and prepare for the future campaign to establish a more equitable society in America. All of the participants illustrated the SCLC-SC’s theme of “Building Dr. King’s Beloved Community.”
“Looking out at this diverse crowd, I’m excited to see so many people that I didn’t expect to attend,” said the Rev. William D. Smart, SCLC-SC president/CEO. “Your presence shows that we are on our way to building the ‘beloved community.’”
Among the program highlights was the debut of the SCLC-SC Community Choir, directed by Melida Byrd-Smith. Also, Lord Byron Scott, representing the organization’s MLK Young Dreamers for Justice, narrated a stirring rendition of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, accurately mimicking King’s animated vocal delivery and intense facial expressions.
In addition, Vigil Grant of the California Minority Alliance discussed “Africa Americans and the Cannabis Industry” and Arnetta Wells, deputy political director for SEIU 2015, shared insight on the “Schools and Communities First” initiative.
Other participants included Ward’s pastor, the Rev. John E. Cager III; The Rev. Michael Eagle, pastor of Grant AME – Long Beach; Emiliana Guereca, SCLC-SC’s 2019 Rosa Parks Award recipient; and William Thigpen, an Inland Empire educator and coach.
The Rev. Dr. O. Jerome Green delivered the keynote address entitled, “Back to the Future,” where he cited the parallels between milestone events in African American history with issues that the Black community continues to face today.
“My message is all a part of trying to move our people forward,” said Green, who serves as president of Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas. “I’m happy to be in Los Angeles to support the SCLC.”
Summarizing the whole event, Eagle noted, “I really enjoyed the program. We just didn’t focus on celebrating Dr. King, but also on what we can do now about what’s happening now.”
As part of the King Legacy Month activities, Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches will present the “Theology in the Hood” forum and revival. Crossroad United Methodist Church will host the forum on “Men and Women’s Re-entry” on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 11:30 a.m., on its campus located at 2354 N. Wilmington Ave., in Compton. The revival, featuring the Rev. Dr. Clyde Oden as the preacher, takes place on Jan. 14, and Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m., at Bethel AME Church, 7901 S. Western Ave., in Los Angeles.
To learn more, visit sclc-sc.org.