400 turn out to honor King
RIVERSIDE ---- Since she had never been to a parade for Martin Luther King Jr. and with a 10-year-old daughter wanting to know more about the civil rights leader, it seemed natural for Kimberly Butts and her daughter Ciana to walk in his honor Monday morning.
Joined by her two younger daughters and her mother, Dates Watermelon, the family was among the nearly 400 people that participated in the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. walkathon in Riverside. The three-mile walk began in Bordwell Park in Riverside and culminated in the town center outside City Hall with a series of speakers, entertainment and awards ---- all to honor the late King.
"We walk because we share a common dream of justice and equality," Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge told the crowd. He called for a renewed commitment to King's values, because he said many young people are being killed or not finishing school and failing to reach their potential.
"For too many people of all ages, the American Dream has not yet been realized," he said, adding later that the celebration was not just of King's life, but of the values of equality and justice that he championed.
For Watermelon, the day was more about the feeling of togetherness and peace that she said permeated the town center, which was teeming with little children climbing all over statues in the park and playing with balloons.
"Being here and seeing people together ---- it's exciting," she said.
The walkathon raised money for several college scholarships given out during the ceremony, which was filled with performances by young musical and dance groups, and included a reading of King's, "I Have a Dream" by two students.
Renee Poselski of Riverside brought her three children to teach them more about King's teachings of unity and peace, which are key elements of her Baha'i faith, a religion that teaches unity for all people.
"I wanted to come in support," Poselski said. "It's not enough just to have the day off."
Ditto for Jerry Carlson, a professor and associate dean in the graduate school of education at UC Riverside, whose wife, Ingrid, brought one of the few signs at the ceremony protesting the potential war in Iraq. Signs saying King would have been opposed to a war in Iraq were staples of protests in Washington, D.C., over the weekend.
"Martin Luther King Jr. is a person for who I have such a high regard and admiration for," Carlson said. "I wish he were still here now."
Included in the ceremonies in the park were about 15 information and food booths ranging from the Californian Highway Patrol, the Coalition for Common Ground and the Latino Network, to booths that sold barbecue. The booths surrounded the 10-foot-tall statue of King with his arms around two children, that sits in the center of the park.
At least one speaker, Adrian Dell Roberts of Riverside Unified School District, said he wasn't thrilled by the turnout. Roberts, who drew the largest applause of any speaker, told the crowd that more adults need to have a passion for the black community.
"I don't understand why there are not more adults here," said Roberts, who is the administrative assistant for campus and community services for the district. "We cannot afford to take a day off, there's too many important things to be done."
Roberts told the crowd that everybody knows that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and "Unless you get out there and squeak, you won't get greased."
Contact staff writer Rob O'Dell at (909) 676-4315, Ext. 2626 or at email@example.com.
©Copyright 2003, North County Times (San Diego, CA, USA)
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