January 21, 2003
Bahai members help keep King’s dream alive
Sentinel staff writer
Drivers honked at a woman holding two 10-foot plastic poles with white cardboard doves on top.
A crowd sang "This Little Light Of Mine" as they held candles and pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. Others held signs that read more like pleas than protests: "One people. One planet. Please."
Many of the 150 people who attended a Monday afternoon rally at the Town Clock had a dual purpose: celebrating the memory of Americas most influential civil rights leader, while voicing opposition to a potential U.S.-led war on Iraq. The celebration/rally, organized by area members of the Bahai movement, was peaceful and soulful, filled with songs, harmonica and the sound of strumming guitars.
A few in the crowd wept when a group began to sing, "My God, my adored one, my king." The crowd went silent and listened to Kings "I Have A Dream" speech.
It was also a show of pride. This beach town is often characterized as homogenous, but more than a third of the people in the crowd were African Americans, mostly from Santa Cruz, including several members of the Progressive Baptist Church.
Ann Miller, part of the task force that put together the celebration, said she is well aware that members of the Bahai faith face persecution in Iraq and Iran.
"But war is never a solution," she said. "Violence creates violence."
She said she believes in a peaceful "world order" beginning with the United Nations leading countries to work through their problems and pursue nonviolent solutions.
Many of the broad speeches touched on the legacy of King, assassinated 35 years ago, and the tense situation in Iraq.
"Dr. King set forth his light as a sacrifice, not just for one race but for mankind," said Samuel Love, pastor for the Progressive Baptist Church. "We are grateful we can stand together under the divine umbrella of unity this afternoon."
Love later said war, at times, is inevitable, "but before we push the panic button, our president should pursue all other resources."
Dr. Raymond Terry, pastor of Lifeline Church of God and Christ in Live Oak, recited a poem about King being "on top of the mountain, and he cannot be conquered," and how the road to peace, hope and glory is never easy but always worthwhile.
The Bahai faith includes teachings about overcoming racial prejudice. Its adherents, according to the Web site Bahai.org, believe each of the religions, "brought by the messengers of God: Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Mohammed" represents a successive stage in the Hspiritual development of civilization."
Also this week, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.: A convocation at 7 p.m. today at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, featuring a lecture by the Rev. Jim Lawson, sponsored by UC Santa Cruz. Admission is free. Lawson, who worked with King during the civil rights movement, also will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Darling House bed and breakfast, 314 West Cliff Drive. Requested donations are $10 to $25. He also will lecture at 7 p.m. Friday at the First Congregational Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz, with $5 to $10 in requested donations.
Contact Dan White at email@example.com
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