National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
                         Celebration of Freedom


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Community Celebrates King's Legacy
Many hail his accomplishments
The Sun

ONTARIO - The relief efforts in Haiti were on the minds of many Monday morning as they celebrated the birthday of a man who devoted his life to helping others.


More than 300 people - including educators, elected officials and community activists - gathered on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario to pay tribute to the civil-rights leader's legacy and social work.


The Juneteenth Observance Foundation has organized the breakfast for the past nine years.


King was not just an advocate for racial justice, "He also fought for social justice and dignity for all," said state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair.


"Dr. King's most urgent question in life is, `What are you doing for others?' This question is never more relevant today."


King always encouraged people to donate, volunteer or feed the poor, McLeod said. She urged attendees to donate to the Red Cross or other relief efforts helping victims of the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 in Haiti. The earthquake caused major damage to the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed an estimated 200,000 people.


Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Ontario, said she was honored to be able to pay tribute to one of "our great souls in American history."


Quoting King, Torres said, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."


King always saw the good in America and felt that people can be kind and compassionate, Torres said. The relief efforts going on in Haiti, she said, is a perfect example.


The breakfast brings together a diverse crowd in the Inland Empire for "healing, and a loving time to share Dr. King's message," said John Thompson, founder and CEO of Juneteenth America.


What made King unique was that he stood up for change and his leadership provided hope, said Brian Kennedy, pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Ontario.


Kennedy said at the breakfast that people can do three things in life that can help bring meaningful change, just like King.


"First, you need to love others. Second, do what's right," he said. "And lastly, stand up for what's right."


King refused to go along with the injustices in the world and understood that change would not come overnight, Kennedy said.


The Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr., the event's keynote speaker and chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, asked everyone not to lose focus on King's message.


Myers, a medical missionary in Mississippi, said he was inspired by the civil- rights activist and his movement to help the poor. As a result, Myers became a doctor and has spent 22 years serving the poorest people in America.


Americans can do their part by helping "our neighbors to the south in Haiti" as well as communities in need in their own cities, he said.


In this post-King world, as Myers put it, the political labels also need to be taken off so there can be common ground on issues facing the nation.


The biggest challenge facing the nation is, "We as Americans need to free ourselves so we can begin to get out of this mess that we got ourselves into," he said.


The breakfast included a performance by the Mt. Zion Baptist choir.