January 14, 2023: Each year, during the weekend preceding the national holiday that honors the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a number of events are held that commemorate Dr. King and celebrate his accomplishments.
This year the breakfast was held by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee in partnership with the Clovis Police Department at the California Health Sciences University building in Clovis just off of Temperance avenue.
In addition to this breakfast, other events throughout the weekend began on Friday January 13th, with a Garlanding Ceremony and an Awards Program that saw Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming receive the 2023 Public Service Award.
Special ceremonies and Church Services were held on Saturday and Sunday including the West Fresno Ministerial Alliance Service at the Westside Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Fresno, a Gospel Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Westside Church of God, and a Candlelight Peace Vigil also at the Church of God immediately succeeding the Gospel Tribute.
These events organized throughout the weekend lead to the MLK Community March and Commemoration Program held in Fresno in which participants could march from St. John’s Cathedral to Fresno City Hall and finish at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium where the Commemoration Program was to be held.
At the Community Breakfast on Saturday, as patrons made their way in from the rainfall, they were greeted with programs as they made their way into the large ballroom that would host the breakfast. After an opening welcome by Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming, Deanna May, Lead Chaplain for Clovis PD gave a blessing before breakfast was served.
During a program that was held promptly afterwards, songs were sung by the Image Church & Gospel Church of Fresno after an Invocation by Edward Darrell Thomas II, Assistant Pastor of the Living Word International Church.
Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, Professor Emeritus of CSU Fresno, inaugural committee member of thirty-nine years and founding member of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee was chosen as the Keynote Speaker for the breakfast, and shared his thoughts on Dr. King and his teachings of nonviolent protest.
“His words sparked a nonviolent revolution that changed the course of history in this nation.
Dr. King is not with us today, but he lives in our hearts and minds…He inspired millions of us including myself- Dr. King was a drum major of peace, justice and righteousness.”
“Dr. King today would strongly condemn the violence that we witness today across America. The violence that we see in our homes, violence that we see in our communities, and in our schools…He would not only be an opponent of gun violence, he would also echo a ban on assault rifles. He would oppose the war and violence in Ukraine…He would like to see Republicans and Democrats work together and find common ground for the benefit of the entire nation, on issues such as healthcare for all, homelessness, mental health, Covid-19, the elimination of student debt, addressing the climate crisis, and condemn and protest strongly the discretion of voting rights…I believe he would also ask the question, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Dr. Jeffrey Hunt, Secretary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Committee, stated, “For the committee it’s really a privilege and opportunity to get the community together to honor the legacy of Dr. King.
A lot of times people want to show remembrance to Dr. King but there’s not a committee to pull together events. Sometimes you just don’t know how…What the committee does is pull together events like this community breakfast or the march on Monday.”
Dr. Hunt believes there is a message that the Unity Committee tries to send to both the communities of Fresno and Clovis.
“I’d say to both communities, come together, love one another, treat each other with dignity, believe in the idea of equity and fight for equity as we work towards equality.”
As the breakfast concluded, before guests began to file out of the building and back into the rain, they conversed with each other and made their way through the gauntlet of Clovis and Fresno institutions and dignitaries that were present including the Clovis City Council, Clovis Unified School District, and the Fresno County Board of Supervisors office.
With a number of past Keynote Speakers of the breakfast present including Clovis Mayor Pro-Tem Vong Mouanoutoua and SCCCD Trustee Deborah Ikeda, there was no shortage for the possibility of an exchange of ideas on such a day in which all came together to honor a man who led others to a change of ideas.