Martin Luther King Jr
Rev. Martin Luther King during a press conference on Nov. 6 1964. Photo credit: Dick DeMarsico/World Telegram & Sun/Public Domain

As America appears split in sometimes angry disagreement days before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, the Southland Monday looked to messages for “friends of goodwill” from Martin Luther King Jr. on the national day honoring the slain civil rights leader.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day brings Americans together to celebrate a great man and the power of his message — the idea that equality is for every woman and man, that only love can drive away hate, that we can resist and defeat injustice with moral clarity, faith, and nonviolence,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Dr. King preached in Los Angeles just weeks before the first march from Selma to Montgomery — and on that day at Temple Israel of Hollywood, he spoke of how the movement often looked to `friends of goodwill’ for the courage and inspiration to face down the forces of racial discrimination.

My wish for Angelenos and people everywhere is that we will be those friends of goodwill, so that the blessings of Dr. King’s legacy can be multiplied today and every day of the year.”

Numerous tributes and activities across Southern California were planned to honor King.

Long Beach’s seventh Day of Service will begin at 8 a.m. with a rally at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, with volunteers then participating in environmental service projects throughout the city.

The fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Clothing Collection & Community Breakfast will be held from 9 a.m.-noon at the headquarters of the volunteer organization Big Sunday at 6111 Melrose Ave. in Hollywood. Hundreds of volunteers will sort and fold more than 20,000 items of clothing, which will be donated to more than seven organizations, according to David Levinson, Big Sunday’s founder and executive director.

“Despite what you hear, now, more than ever, most people want to focus on what we have in common,” Levinson said. “There are so many people — from all walks of life — who want to work together to make our world a nicer place.”

More than 700 volunteers will join the 288 City Year Los Angeles members at Crenshaw High School at 9 a.m. to paint 35 murals, 120 college logos and undertake two gardening projects. City Year Los Angeles AmeriCorps members work full time at 28 Los Angeles Unified School District Schools to help students stay in school and on track to graduate high school.

Employees of AltaMed Health Services and volunteers will participate in the sixth annual Roosevelt High School Beautification Day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The goal is to create a safe and visually appealing space for the students to learn, according to AltaMed President and CEO Castulo de la Rocha, an alumnus of the Boyle Heights school.

University of La Verne students, faculty, staff, alumni and others will help the homeless, spend time with the elderly, mentor children and perform other volunteer work from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Inglewood’s 34th annual commemoration of King’s life and accomplishments will begin at 9 a.m. with a commemorative program at The Tabernacle, with performances by local choirs and community groups along with participation from elected officials and special guests.

The event will have the theme “Building Bridges: Embracing Our Diversity.” A symbolic civil rights march will follow the service at approximately 11 a.m. and head to the Forum, where King Fest will be held with live entertainment and interactive games.

The Valley Interfaith Council’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration will be held from from 5-9 p.m. at the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church in Pacoima and include a performance by the San Fernando Valley Mass Choir.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Day brings Americans together to celebrate a great man and the power of his message — the idea that equality is for every woman and man, that only love can drive away hate, that we can resist and defeat injustice with moral clarity, faith, and nonviolence,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Dr. King preached in Los Angeles just weeks before the first march from Selma to Montgomery — and on that day at Temple Israel of Hollywood, he spoke of how the movement often looked to `friends of goodwill’ for the courage and inspiration to face down the forces of racial discrimination.

My wish for Angelenos and people everywhere is that we will be those friends of goodwill, so that the blessings of Dr. King’s legacy can be multiplied today and every day of the year.”

In his proclamation designating Monday as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President Barack Obama declared, “As we reflect on Dr. King’s legacy, we celebrate a man and a movement that transformed our country, and we remember that our freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of others.

Given the causes he championed — from civil rights and international peace to job creation and economic justice — it is right that today we honor his work by serving others. Now more than ever, we must heed his teachings by embracing our convictions. We must live our values, strive for righteousness and bring goodness to others.

And at a time when our politics are so sharply polarized and people are losing faith in our institutions, we must meet his call to stand in another person’s shoes and see through their eyes. We must work to understand the pain of others, and we must assume the best in each other. Dr. King’s life reminds us that unconditional love will have the final word — and that only love can drive out hate.”

—City News Service

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