Bahai News -- The Modesto Bee - Several area events to honor King's focus on peace, unity

Several area events to honor King's focus on peace, unity

January 19, 2003 Posted: 05:15:10 AM PST



Walter Strong was a paperboy in Brooklyn when he met Martin Luther King Jr. in the early 1960s. King was staying at the home of Strong's minister.

"I was just very impressed and taken with him at the time," said Strong, now vice president for development and university relations at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock. "I would see Martin Luther King and (fellow civil rights activist) Whitney Young on television. To see them walking down the street with my minister was really special."

King's message of peace, nonviolence and civil rights is one that needs to be revisited constantly, Strong said.

"So many in our community were not around at the time of Martin Luther King's march on Washington and the 'I have a dream' speech," he said. "They may know he is a famous American, but many times don't have a poignant understanding of just why."

With Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, several events around the region are planned to honor the work and life of King, who was assassinated in 1968. The events aim to bring people together and share messages of perseverance and achievement.

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison will speak at an event Saturday at Modesto Junior College. Jemison was the first minority woman in space when she joined the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992.

Born in Decatur, Ala., and raised in Chicago, Jemison entered Stanford University at 16 on scholarship. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1977 after also studying African and Afro-American studies. She earned her doctorate in medicine at Cornell University Medical College in 1981 and was a general practitioner in Los Angeles before becoming an astronaut for NASA.

After six years with NASA, Jemison resigned in 1993. She is now president of two technology companies and lives in Houston. In addition to her science background, Jemison, 46, is trained in dance and choreography, speaks fluent Russian, Japanese and Swahili, and is an author and host of the Discovery Channel series "World of Wonders."

Saturday's event includes a question-and-answer period with Jemison, songs by the Franklin Elementary School Choir, a video tribute to King and a poetry reading by student Tatiana Tatmon. It is sponsored by several Modesto and regional agencies and businesses.

The free event starts at 7 p.m. Saturday in the MJC gymnasium. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information, call 537-7818.

Civil rights activist Terry Roberts will speak Monday at Christian Love Baptist Church, 202 H St., Modesto. Roberts is one of the "Little Rock Nine," the group of black students who integrated the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957.

The youths entered the school with the help of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, sent by then-President Eisenhower. Roberts, 15 at the time, is now a retired psychology professor. He and the rest of the Little Rock Nine received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1998.

A video about integration of Southern schools will be shown at 10 a.m. Monday. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m and includes the Modesto High Drum and Bugle Corps and West Modesto King-Kennedy Neighborhood Collaborative No Limit Step Team. Roberts will speak at 11:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

After the program, a reception with refreshments and a question-and-answer session with Roberts will be held at King-Kennedy Memorial Center, 601 N. Martin Luther King Drive, Modesto. Call 575-1187 for more information.

On Jan. 29, California State University, Stanislaus, will hold a musical tribute to King. The Modesto Community Choir, a group of gospel singers from 12 area churches, will perform, directed by singer, songwriter and recording artist Rosetta Mines. The group has 30 singers accompanied by drums, horns, piano and organ. Turlock Mayor Curt Andre will speak. Refreshments will be served.

The free event is at 7 p.m., in the Stanislaus State Event Center. The university is at 801 W. Monte Vista Ave. in Turlock. Call 667-3997 for more information.

Black Student Union groups from each of Modesto's public high schools will hold a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Talent Revue Friday at King-Kennedy Memorial Center. The free talent revue starts at 7 p.m. and is followed by an after-party for ages 14 to 20 from 10 p.m. to midnight. Admission to the party is $3. The event is sponsored by the City of Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department. The center is at 601 N. Martin Luther King Drive in Modesto. Call 577-5355 for more information.

St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Sonora will hold an interfaith observance of King's birthday today. "The Struggle Continues -- Justice for All" features gospel music by the Sonora Inter-Faith Music Ministry and the Fresno Baha'i Singers. Poet Gig Caisse will read her work "Memo to Martin." High school students will read excerpts from the writings of King and other notable humanitarians.

The free event is sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Observance Committee in Sonora. It runs from 2 to 4 p.m. in the community hall at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 127 W. Jackson St., Sonora. Refreshments will be provided. Call 533-0721 or 533-3516 for more information.

Bee staff writer Amy White can be reached at 578-2318 or

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