I was the keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King Community Coalition “Day On, Not Off” at Webster School this past weekend. The morning’s event also included planting trees at the school. The speech was given at the end of a busy weekend. My wife and I had been honored by the Legislative Black Caucus in Sacramento, California as unsung heroes. We were nominated by Assembly member Chris Holden. Our sincere gratitude to him and Phlunte Riddle, his ﬁeld deputy and his staff for a great weekend.
We took great pride in meeting many of the other honorees and seeing a few old friends. An impassioned motion and plea by a number of the Black legislators made us proud. Particularly impressive was the speech by Assembly member Shirley Weber of San Diego, ﬁrst chair for the Legislative Black Caucus. She was dynamic. It was also good to see Assembly member Autumn R. Burke, the daughter of Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, following in her mother’s political footsteps.
On Thursday, January 11, the guest speaker at the MLK Breakfast was Donna Brazile. She told of her assignment and responsibility to make Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday, how she had promised Coretta Scott King she would and how she ﬁnally accomplished it many hard fought and too long years. She stated, “I will not go back!” That statement resonated within me.
Dr. King week is a week to remind the world that we won’t go back. That theme should run throughout Black History Month. ‘We Won’t Go back”. This past weekend, I also spoke at the Martin Luther King Day. I followed the Rose Parade Queen and Princesses on the program. Two of them said they had been Girl Scouts back in the seventies. I began my talk by referring to the fact that I had worked for the Girl Scouts back in the seventies. I was the Community Resources Director developing programs to draw Black and Brown girls into the Scouts. I cited that in those days Black and Brown participation was limited and programs, posters and brochures needed to be developed to attract and bring them in. That was one of the ways I served the community at the time.
I then went on to say that this day we were celebrating the life of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr, a historical personality. Then I mentioned another person known as 45. He was also historical. Dr. King was historical and he made sense. The guy known as 45 made history but he doesn’t make sense. In my talk I emphasized that our lives needed to make sense. I mentioned Clarence Thomas saying, he made history as a Black Supreme Court justice, but his life didn’t make sense.
Thomas seemed to forget that he replaced the great Thurgood Marshall who opened the door to integrating schools, housing, employment, and many other things. That was Thurgood’s claim to fame. Clarence Thomas’ claim to fame was sexual harassment. Dr. King’s claim to fame was service. He said that that (service) “was the key to greatness”.
45’s key to fame was race baiting, name calling, crap talking, womanizing, insecurity, jealous of Barack Obama and his accomplishments, uneducated about the Constitution, and being ungodly. Dr. King was an educated and godly man who, like Jesus, served humanity and even died for his cause.
Dr. King taught us many lessons. One writer said that God was a symbol of divinely inspired hope. King has been called a modern day Moses who brought hope back to the Southern Negro, a hope that James Weldon Johnson said had died.
In my speech, I attempted to say that as we plant (trees) we join the holy crusade for human dignity by serving, just as Dr. King served.