By Carole Grosch | Reporter
Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday morning at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District to pay tribute to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would have been 88 years old this year. The diversity of the audience would have pleased the honoree, who preached equality, unity, solidarity, peace and love.
“We are always excited to see new faces attend each year, and this year was no exception,” said Erin Ford-Horio of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee. “It’s also great to see more and more kids attend each year, as it makes it a true community event.”
The annual community breakfast was hosted by the Clovis Police Department and the Fresno Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee. Janet Stoll-Lee acted as Mistress of Ceremonies with Mary Castro, First Lady of Fresno State as the keynote speaker.
“We all have the ability to make a difference,” Castro told the audience in her address.
She has lived up to those words since August 2013, when her husband, Joseph I. Castro became the university’s eighth president. Along with serving on various committees, she worked to create the Student Cupboard, a food and hygiene distribution center for students, and the Catered Cupboard which provides food for students after catered events. Castro is also chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Board for Food to Share.
“When we all come together a need can be met,” she added.
During the event, the audience was treated to a dance performance of “Worth,” by Purposed II Praise School of Dance, for which they received a standing ovation. Three inspirational selections were also sung by the Tulare Living Christ Church Choir.
“It’s always amazing to me how a room of 350 strangers can be brought together by the power of music,” said Ford-Horio.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born Jan. 15, 1929, to the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King in Atlanta, Georgia. An outstanding student, King graduated from high school when he was 15 years old, then attended Morehouse College. He later obtained graduate degrees from Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University.
After leading a boycott of public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, King first gained national attention when he and other civil rights activists were arrested. The boycott was successful in that a federal court ruled that any law requiring racially segregated seating on buses was unconstitutional. King is best remembered for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.
“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral,” said King. “I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
At age 35, King became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986 and a memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.
Still powerful today are King’s words. A copy of his “I Have a Dream” speech, tied with purple ribbon, was on every table at the breakfast.