Soka Gakkai International
Buddhism in Action for Peace
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SGI-USA celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 20 with a festival themed "Unity in Community." SGI-USA cohosted the festival, held at its World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, together with The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition and others including the City of Santa Monica and Santa Monica College Associates.
Some 500 people attended the "Unity in Community" program, including representatives from the state government, the local city council, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, and the Santa Monica-Venice branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
The event featured performances by local youth groups such the Mar Vista Gardens Boys And Girls Club Steppers and the SGI-USA LA North Coast Zone taiko ensemble, as well as a theatrical piece by performing artists Gerald C. Rivers and Charles Holt, who wove Dr. King’s words together with music and narrative about his life and ideals.
The program concluded with the MLK Westside Coalition's presentation of awards to outstanding community initiatives. The 2014 Community Light Award was presented to the Actors' Gang Prison Project for its work in reducing recidivism rates in California prisons by bringing theater to inmates. Education awards were also presented to students who submitted works about nonviolence and the theme "Unity and Community."
Following the event, a Community Involvement Fair was held at the nearby SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Center, where local NPOs shared informational displays.
[Adapted from an article in World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of World Tribune]
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