Antioch celebrates Martin Luther King Day, awards scholarships
By Allen Payton
The Antioch community joined together on Monday to celebrate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with prayers and performances, and by awarding $1,275 in annual scholarships to local students. The event was held in the Beede Auditorium at Antioch High School and was lead by Councilwoman Monica Wilson.
Sponsored by the City of Antioch, Antioch Unified School District, Antioch Community Foundation and the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch, the theme for the day was “United By The Dream” and began with a welcome message by Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha, followed by the invocation by Pastor Christine Liddell of Power for Living Ministries.
The Divine Voices of Deer Valley High performed the National Anthem, followed by a special rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem, by recroding artist Ornicia Lowe. Students from Marsh, Mission and Jack London Elementary Schools offered presentations, and music and dance performances were provided by the Antioch High Music Masters, Deer Valley High School Black Student Union and Dance Xtreme of Antioch High. Antioch High’s Claryssa Wilson, Miss California Black Talented Teen and Miss Black California USA Darinisha Williams provided a special Martin Luther King Day tribute.
Antioch High sophomore Sage Bennett was presented with the Reggie Moore Scholarship Award, for his poem entitled, Change, which he read for the audience. The $400 scholarship is in memory of the late Councilman Reggie Moore who was the first African-American elected to the Antioch City Council. It was presented by former Mayor Wade Harper and Moore’s widow Dashon and family.
Two brothers who are Deer Valley High students received scholarships for their essays both using this year’s theme. Sophomore Adeboye Adeyemi took the High School First Place honor and $200 for his essay and freshman Adegoke Adeyemi won the High School Second Place and $100 for his essay. Deer Valley High senior Jafar Khalfani-Bey won third place and $75 for his poem entitled Kings of Color.
Winners of the High School Honorable Mention and $50 each were Deer Valley High junior Emily Gavrilenko for her essay entitled Equality for All, and Dozier-Libbey Medical High School senior Elizabeth Adams for her poem also using this year’s theme. Orchard Park Middle School eighth-grader Dennis Gavrilenko was honored with $100 as the first-time award recipient by a middle school student for his essay.
First Place High School honors for art and $200 was awarded to Dozier-Libbey High senior Mina Hernandez for her small canvas painting and Dozier-Libbey junior Munachiso Joy Anwukah won Second Place honors and $100 for her small poster pencil drawing.
The event concluded with a special poem about African-American history performed in a rap by Antioch resident Keith Archuleta, a portion of which can be seen on the Antioch Herald Facebook page. He introduced his poem with the following:
We are thankful that Martin Luther King, Jr.did much more than march or make speeches. We are thankful that Dr. King did much more even than fight for policy goals that would apply to all Americans, no matter their color, such as ending poverty, reducing the war-like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, ending voter intimidation and discrimination, making this a stronger democracy for all people, and so on.
More than the marches, or the speeches, or the policy accomplishments, we are thankful that Rev. King and others sacrificed their bodies and their lives to end 200 years of terrorism that had been used to exclude an entire people from social, political, and economic participation in this country.
We are thankful that King and so many others stood side by side, fighting for justice and equality; and by so doing they inspired a people who had lived in fear to confront and overcome those fears.
We are thankful that King and others helped us as a people and as a nation to overcome our fears. That’s what freedom is all about.
And even now, as there are those today who seek to bring us back to that time of fear and bigotry and intimidation, we are thankful that we know better. We know that if we choose to love and not fear, we all will be free.
We are thankful that King and so many others showed the world what the love of God looks like.
So this poem is written to all those who “work together, struggle together, stand up for freedom together,” understanding that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be; and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
So I say ‘thank you for letting me be myself again.’
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