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Hundreds join El Cerrito parade, program to honor Dr. King

<i>Guest speaker Rev. Donnell Rickey Jones, right, 
              speaks with master of ceremonies Lloyd Madden</i>

Guest speaker Rev. Donnell Rickey Jones, right, speaks with master of ceremonies Lloyd Madden


Hundreds of people joined the Jan. 17 march and rally honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in what Mayor Mark Friedman called "the greatest turnout in the history of this event."

"We have come a long way since 1967," said Friedman, "but we still have a long way to go." It was a message echoed by speakers throughout the program.

Friedman noted that the leadership of the city is still predominately white. "Our schools -- with a majority of students of color -- have a long way to go."

School trustee George Harris III, said, "We have to do what we can to inspire dreamers." Harris, who also participated in a program Jan. 15 in Richmond, said, "As I was reminded at a gathering Saturday, he was a dreamer, not the dream. The dream belongs to all of us."

Harris urged those attending to carry out Dr. King's dream in their daily lives, through their jobs, through organizations, and in their homes.

"You must have the conviction to point out wrong wherever it is."

Harris also took the opportunity to urge those gathered to join the NAACP, noting it is not exclusively a black organization. "It is concerned with the rights of all people."

Congressman George Miller said King's message was so powerful because it was based on basic principals such as economic and social justice.

"Reverend King was perceived as a threat by so many people because his program was so basic," Miller said.

He said ensuring everyone dignity and respect is the way to combat violence, hatred and racism.

"As George Harris said, it starts at home. What is great to see is so many of your brought your children."

Miller drew to a close by saying, "You make me so very proud to represent you in the Congress of the United States."

Guest Speaker Rev. Donnell Rickey Jones noted that his father had to go before the City Council to be able to build his home on Cypress Avenue because of racial restrictions on the property.

Jones, pastor of the Amos Temple CME Church in Riverside, said he returned to his hometown to give a "state of the hood address."

"This is a critical time in history, it is a critical time in the history of America in general, and of the church in particular."

While it's not the South and it's not the time of the Civil Rights movement, he said, "We have some demons of today we must contend with. . . It may not be police dogs and water hoses but it's the police dogging us, and killing us.

"It may not be the back of the bus but it's the back rooms and the board meetings that we are not invited to. . .

"It may not be cross burnings but church burnings."

"These things naturally anger us. It gets our blood boiling. God says don't worry; you do your part, I'll do mine."

"The dream, " Jones said, "must begin here at home."

The day began with a march from the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Manila, down San Pablo Avenue and up Moeser to the Community Center, where the program was held.

The event, the city's 11th annual King celebration, drew a wide variety of organizations, churches, families and individuals, as well as numerous local officials. The entire El Cerrito City Council participated in the parade, as did school board members Harris and Glen Price. Supervisor John Gioia was also present at the program, as was East Bay Regional Park District board member Jean Siri.

Organizations represented included the El Cerrito branch of the NAACP (which co-sponsored the event along with St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Human Relations Commission), the El Cerrito High School marching band, the Democratic Club, Celebrating Culture & Community, the United Farm Workers, the Gray Panthers, and Brownies.

Performers included Dana Kemp on trumpet, the Fantastic Steppers, St. Peter's Brighter Day Choir, Bay Area Steppers, sign/praise dancer Tonette Polk and poet Trevaj Siller.


From top, Congressman George Miller; Brighter Day Choir; George Harris III and, the Bay Area Steppers.

Run dates: 2000-01-17 - 2000-02-07

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