Bahá'í Library Online
.. . .
Back to Newspaper articles archive: 2003

Candlelights for King - January 23, 2003

In a candlelight vigil, MLK participants walk about Paradise and sing songs. Photo by Katye Martens/THE POST.
By Trevor Warner - Staff Writer

About 35 area residents marched though the cold and fog Monday night to protest war with Iraq and celebrate ideals set forth by Martin Luther King, Jr.

With candles in hand, participants walked from the Paradise Senior Center to Elliott Road and back, singing "We Shall Overcome."

The protestors returned to the Senior Center to a crowd of about 150 people waiting for the guest speakers and entertainment at the Paradise Center for Tolerance and Nonviolence's Third Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.

Redding resident Roger Hogan, a musician and retired California State University, Chico professor, was the evening's main speaker.

Hogan played saxophone with the United States Air Force at the Monterey Jazz Festival and on the Johnny Carson Show, not to mention with jazz greats like Della Reese, Sarah Vaughn and Quincy Jones.

When it comes to Martin Luther King, Jr., Hogan said there tends to be an over focus on where he was, instead of where the world should be according to his vision.

Hogan spoke on a variety of subjects, including religious freedom, politics and equality.

He opened his speech with the sentiment that King wasn't a spokesman only for black people, but for all people.

"When we talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. were not talking about a black hero," Hogan said. "We're talking about an American hero. He helped cleanse the baggage that has been miring the country and its potential for so long."

He said despite King's efforts, progress has been painfully slow because so many things in this world cause divisiveness, taking a couple shots at the political and religious climate to illustrate his point.

"How can you say that if I'm a Democrat and you're a Republican you shouldn't trust me, or I shouldn't trust you?" he asked. "We don't have enough books for our children, but we have enough money to support war? Religions do the same thing. How can we show the need for religion if they are teaching hate?"

He said in times of financial trouble, schools are quick to cut arts programs, but leave sports programs, which is like a bird trying to fly with one wing.

It's good to have sports programs, he said, but arts and sports need to be seen as equally important to a young person's growth.

Hogan's strongest words were about racism and those who teach it.

"Prejudice doesn't come from a baby," he said. "It comes from the baby's parents and grandparents. But so does insight, and that is what they need to teach them."

To close, he invited everyone to hold hands and sing "Amazing Grace" while he played the tune solo on his saxophone.

The Baha'i Youth Dance Group performed a short dance, called "The Racism Dance," that poignantly outlined Hogan's statement the racism it taught.

It started with a black kid and a white kid, two childhood friends, playing together until their parents pulled them apart and taught them to fight each other.

Reluctantly, they do so until mass violence breaks out and the kids duck into each other's protection.

The parents learn to accept diversity after they see the children found comfort in each other.

Jason Thomas presented 10 little-known facts about King n he was admitted to college at age 15, graduated at 19 was inspired by Ghandi and accomplished all of his major achievements within only thirteen years.

Thomas said he was impressed because King was always traveling and writing.

"He trained himself to sleep 4 hours a night so he could get done all he needed to do," Thomas said. "He wrote five books in 13 years. The man didn't waste any time."

Andy Deer read "Not a Movie" and "Poet to Bigot," two poems by Langston Hughes describing the hatred between black and whites.

Paradise Adventist Academy's Voices of Hope performed a skit called "Long Ride to Freedom," the story of Rosa Parks and her refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, a flashpoint in the civil rights movement's history.

Paradise Town Manager Chuck Rough and Paradise Unified School District Superintendent Rick Landess spoke briefly on the improved climate of tolerance and diversity within their agencies.

Hogan said the Ridge's reputation for intolerance and racism makes events like the one he attended even more needed.

He said the King holiday is only worth celebrating if there is growth each year and the community doesn't stay in the same place as it was the year before.

"I think it is wonderful," he said. "I enjoy it and think about how people can enjoy and grow from it. I hope that this is something that is practiced all year and not just on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day."

©Copyright 2003, Paradise Post (Paradise, CA, USA)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL:

. .