By Mike Powell
And Louanna Faine
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King left an indelible imprint on the sprits of freedom loving people around the world. During the weekend in Phoenix, that imprint was reflected by the thousands who celebrated Dr. King’s birthday via the annual breakfast, march and festival.
The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Program and Breakfast, “Standing Up For Justice,” took place on Friday, January 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The Honorable Calvin C. Goode was honored for his dedication to the community and presented with a legacy award. “I appreciate the award. I appreciate more in terms on what we have done in the city of Phoenix and what we still need to do in making the city more responsible for it’s citizens,” said Goode.
Six local leaders were presented the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream award. They are Alvin Battle, Emmett Boyd, Dorothy Finnie, Eva Olivas, Dianne Post and Alan Powell. “It’s a humbling situation. You don’t look for accolades like this. It’s more of a situation (of wanting) to serve – not be served,” said Boyd.
Also presented at the breakfast was the 2017 Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to Valerie Churchwell for her for continuously putting her needs aside to help the community. “It’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing to receive such an award,” said Churchwell.
On Monday morning, marchers gathered at Pilgrim Rest Baptist church for a three mile march to Margaret T. Hance Park. Phoenix Police provided security and traffic escorts for the crowd which seemed larger than it has been in recent years. On hand were the faithful church, civic and greek letter organizations who always attend. This year there was also a sizable contingent of Syrian expatriates who added energy and diversity to the gathering.
The march was the manifestation of Dr. King’s legacy. It was inclusive and peaceful. It was composed of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Non-Believers, Native American, Hispanic, Asian, Black and White people who though different in many ways, walked together for a common purpose. The pace of the march allowed those with canes, in wheel chairs or who’s steps have grown short and those pushing strollers to be included.
Various dialogs coursed through the assembly as people shared hopes and dreams, fears and concerns. People talked to one another instead of texting and using social media. Some reunited with old friends. others exchanged greeting with strangers, and still others introduced one acquaintance to another. There was scattered signing flag and banner waving but there was no discord or confrontation.
Once the destination was reached, marchers turned festival-goers, found vendors with many kinds of wares, foods and community information. Children enjoyed bounce houses, slides and Arizona Cardinals Football concessions. The festival stage was filled with acts ranging from church choirs and praise dancers, to rappers, step teams and hip hop dancers. The air was constantly filled with music, and the grounds with families and individuals enjoying the cool weather and the warm camaraderie.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is a day that is about the life and legacy of a man who instilled hope and healing to Black America. King showed us the importance of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and serving your community. Kings messages was universal with the true meaning of forgiveness and unconditional love despite of how someone treats you.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend,” said King.