Peace and Disarmament
SGI-USA Members Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
SGI-USA members in Oklahoma united with church members, elected officials, high school bands and community organizations for Oklahoma City's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade on January 15.
Under the banner "Challenges Beyond the Dream," parade-goers marched a three-mile
route through downtown Oklahoma City, to the cheers of thousands of spectators.
Members hoisted a "Victory Over Violence" (VOV) sign and waved SGI-USA banners, while others rode a colorful float featuring two murals of peace pioneers such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King. SGI men's group members also crafted an eight foot tall gold peace sign.
On the same day, more than 120 Ikeda Youth Ensemble members from San Diego, California, marched through the city as part of its 31st Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
In an event that attracted thousands, the Ikeda Youth Ensemble members performed flag and hip-hop dance performances, while two SGI-USA floats, decorated in red, yellow and blue balloons, carried taiko drummers and a rock band that performed a rendition of the song, "I Have a Dream."
The San Diego parade, which bills itself as one of the largest celebrations of its kind in the US, included peace and youth groups, as well as high school bands, drill teams, colleges, fraternities and faith-based organizations.
A representative leader from the Ikeda Youth Ensemble shared that the youth participating in the parade wanted to express their commitment to world peace and that of their mentor, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.
In Atlanta, Georgia, over 100 SGI-USA youth members joined citizens in a march through downtown Atlanta on January 17, in an event themed "Keeping the Dream Alive: Continuing the Journey--The Next Movement" which marked the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The SGI-USA members comprised a music group, dancers, flag bearers and marchers.
The parade route took participants to historic Auburn Avenue, the site of Dr. King's birth home and resting place, as well as the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he preached. The march also paid homage to the late Reverend James E. Orange, a top aide to Dr. King, who helped mobilize young people throughout the civil rights movement in the early 60s.
In another celebratory event held on January 15, SGI-USA youth in Atlanta joined a day-long public youth conference, where participants from ages 3 to 35 discussed a range of topics, including bullying, health and how to apply Dr. King's Six Principles of Nonviolence to their daily lives. The VOV exhibition was on display at the conference.
Guest Jamida Orange, daughter of Reverend Orange, said that the Civil Rights Movement is not over, because people are still fighting for basic rights. She urged all present to instill in youth the value of a supreme respect for life.
[Adapted from an article in the February 18, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Judy Richards Cappello and World Tribune]