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Santa Monica Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

By Melonie Magruder
Lookout Staff

January 12, 2011 -- This weekend Santa Monica will celebrate Martin Luther King Day with a host of events around the city. January 15 marks would have been the civil rights leader's 82nd birthday.

Since 1986, the nation has recognized the third Monday of every January as a day to honor King and his teachings of resolute non-violence as a path to social reform.

Val Zavala, who will be the Keynote Speaker at Monday's large interfaith program, drew a parallel between the recent assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and King's death in 1968 at the hands of a hate-filled gunman.

"I am absolutely rattled by these events," Zavala told the LookOut News. "But it makes what King stood for all the more relevant. Non-violent change is what it is all about and if King were alive today, I firmly believe that he would be tamping down the vitriol that is fueling the lunatic fringe.”

"Like he so famously said, we should be judged by the content of our character and it is this content that will determine the direction of our lives and our community," Zavala continued.

"Our society is made up of individuals who choose how to build their character. And if they go for integrity and respect, then our country, our community and our lives will be better. We can't change the world, but we can change our character."

Zavela, KCET's vice president of news and public affairs, and anchor of KCET's weekly award-winning news magazine "SoCal Connected,” will address the theme "Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport; We Must Act Now!" at the largest of the weekend's celebrations to be held at the at SGI Auditorium on Monday at 9 a.m.

The multiethnic, interfaith program will include inspirational readings, musical performances and presentations of scholarships.

Monday's event will be followed by a Community Involvement Fair, from 10:30 a.m. till noon at 606 Wilshire Blvd (free parking is available on 7th Street, behind the 7-11 store on Wilshire Blvd). These free events will be presented by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Coalition, in cooperation with the Westside Interfaith Coalition and the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and are co-sponsored by Santa Monica College, Santa Monica College Associates, the city, RAND Corporation and SGI-USA.

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will also offer the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 5th Annual Commemorative Concert on Sunday, January 16 at 3:30 p.m. at the SGI Auditorium at 525 Wilshire Blvd. The concert, featuring violinist Danielle Belén, will include Revueltas' "Redes," Vieuxtemps' "Violin Concerto No.5" and Mendelssohn's "Symphony No. 5” (the Reformation symphony). The concert is free to the public.

On Saturday, there will be two events geared to youngsters. From 10 a.m. till noon, the "MLK Kidz Party" will take place at the Virginia Avenue Park's Kidz Zone. Entertainer Michael Cladis will provide an introduction to the life and teachings of King with music, art, face painting and story telling.

From 1 p.m. till 5 p.m., a free "Peace-In" workshop geared to teenagers will use music, poetry, spoken word, art and diversity discussions to bring home the MLK message. Presented at The Talking Stick (1411 Lincoln Blvd, Venice), the event is sponsored by the NAACP Santa Monica-Venice Branch, the Santa Monica Human Relations Council and the Pico Youth and Family Center.

And, finally, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday, January 14 at Calvary Baptist Church, 1502 20th Street. Suggested donation is $25 per person or $200 for a table of 10.


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