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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listJan 15, 2007

SGI-USA Members Participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebrations

Patti Roberts
Dean Carter (3rd from right) with University of Michigan students and others involved in the GKI exhibition

In January 2007, along with many U.S. citizens, SGI-USA members around the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day), honoring the memory of Dr. King (1929-68), one of the U.S.'s most influential civil rights leaders and pacifists, who was assassinated in 1968.

On January 12, SGI-USA members in Ann Arbor, Michigan, hosted the opening of the "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" (GKI) exhibition at the University of Michigan.

In Fresno, California, an interfaith music service was held at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on January 15. Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus of California State University at Fresno and Interfaith Alliance of Central California board member, coordinated the event. The Central Valley Fresno SGI-USA Chorus sang, "I Have a Dream," and an SGI-USA member read Dr. King's famous speech of the same title.

Shayna Peveler
Visitors to an event celebrating MLK Jr. Day at the SGI-USA World Culture Center in Santa Monica, California

On the same day, Dr. King's life and accomplishments were celebrated with events in Santa Monica, California. The Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition, to which the SGI-USA belongs, as well as the City of Santa Monica and the Associates of Santa Monica College, sponsored "The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration" at the SGI-USA World Culture Center. The event had the largest turnout in its 22-year history. This year's keynote speaker, Dr. Lawrence Carter, said, "I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution we must get in on a revolution of values--from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society."

Later that afternoon, the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra held a concert at the SGI-USA World Culture Center, featuring the vocal talents of Juandalynn R. Abernathy, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, noted civil rights leader and close associate of Dr. King. During the program, the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award was presented to Golden Globe-winning actor Don Cheadle. In addition, SGI-USA's Reign Music Corps, Soldiers of Fortune and African Dancers participated in the 22nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Kingdom Day Parade titled, "We Have Not Forgotten, the Fight Is Not Over."

At the SGI-USA New York Culture Center that same day, the 4th Annual Youth Nonviolence Conference got under way with the theme "Youth Empowerment: Embracing Our Potential for a Culture of Peace." The event was cosponsored by the Temple of Understanding and attracted 160 young people from different faiths and cultures. The keynote speaker was William Gyude Moore from Liberia, West Africa, recognized by the World Federation of United Nations Associations as a Global Civil Society Champion. At the same event, Adeeb Yousif from Darfur, a guest of the International Center for Tolerance Education, conducted a workshop called "Personal Account from Darfur." The conference also included workshops on topics such as: "Seeds of Change: Ending Poverty, Helping Farmers"; "Victory Over Violence"; and "Gender Identity and Gender Violence."

[Adapted from an article in the February 9, 2006 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA]