Antioch remembers Martin Luther King at 8th Annual Celebration with music, dancing, comedy, speeches and awards

The winners of the Scholarship Awards with local elected officials at the 8th Annual Martin Luther King Day event in Antioch, on Monday, January 18, 2016.

The winners of the scholarship awards with local elected officials, Dishon Moore and others, at the 8th Annual Martin Luther King Day event in Antioch, on Monday, January 18, 2016.

By Allen Payton

Monday afternoon, January 18, 2016, Antioch residents joined community and faith leaders in celebrating and remembering the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 8th Annual Celebration held at the Deer Valley High Theater. This year’s theme was “Moving Beyond the Dream A Salute to Greatness” and featured former 49er and three-time Super Bowl winner William “Bubba” Paris as the keynote speaker.

Bubba Paris was the keynote speaker.

Bubba Paris was the keynote speaker.

The event was led by Master & Mistress of Ceremonies Caleb Harper and Claryssa Wilson, who are both high school students in Antioch.

Before Paris spoke the audience heard the National Anthem by Deer Valley High’s Divine Voices and the song, known as the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by Emery Williams of The Church at Antioch.

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper introduced the elected officials, in attendance including Congressman Jerry McNerney, Assemblyman Jim Frazier and County Supervisor Federal Glover.

Glover honored the late Reggie Moore, who as the first African-American member of the Antioch City Council, proposed the first celebration in Antioch.

“Everyone got behind the dream and today we are living the dream,” Glover said. “But we have a long way to go to get there. I’m a product of the work Dr. King done, years ago.”

“I ask when we leave here today we work to make a difference,” he added.

He was followed by a number by the Antioch High School Jazz Ensemble and the Antioch High School Dancers, as well as the Dancers from The Church at Antioch.

Reginald Moore Memorial Scholarship winner for community service Savannah Vanderzwan.

Reginald Moore Memorial Scholarship winner for community service Savannah Vanderzwan.

Local comedian and Deer Valley High grad, Lenard “The KYD” Jackson entertained those in attendance with some jokes and impressions of Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy and President Obama.

“Stay in your lane,” he said. “That’s what 2016 is all about.”

Jackson spoke in broken Spanish saying “that’s Spanish 3 Deer Valley High,” then played his guitar and sang a funny version of La Bamba.

Then for his “Caucasian audience” he played and sang Sweet Home Alabama. Then for his Asian brothers and sisters he played something else that the audience wasn’t quite sure of.

“Some music brings us all together,” Jackson stated. “For my African brothers and sisters, there’s this.” He played Sunshine on a Cloudy Day and the audience sang along.

Gospel music artist Lawrence Matthews, who recently moved to Antioch, and his singers then sang “Jesus How I Love You” also getting the audience to sing along.

Nashone Holmes offered a beautiful praise dance, spinning white and flame-colored flags.

Then Paris was introduced and spoke, inspiring those in attendance to make a difference with the talents they have for the purpose they’ve been given.

He spoke of Dr. King and how “he was willing to sacrifice his own existence to move society forward. I wish he was alive today to see what has occurred.”

“I want to leave this with you, today,” Paris stated. “‘Whatever you do, do it so well that no one living no one dead and no one yet to be born can do it better,’” quoting Dr. Benjamin Mays, President of Morehouse College, who Paris said “planted that with Martin Luther King.”

“I can’t imagine someone beating me,” he exclaimed “I can’t imagine someone doing a better job than me. There’s nowhere in my spirit to come in second.”

“Everyone was born with a purpose,” Paris continued. “Everything in life exists because someone carried the mantle and trusted what they had in them.”

“Some of the parts of his dream have come true,” Paris said, speaking of Dr. King. “But we live in a crazy world. Edmund Burke once said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Paris, who is also an ordained minister, shared the parable of the 99 and the 1 sheep from the Bible.

“He left the 99 and sought the 1,” he said. “Every once in awhile we have to take time and look into the world and find the one person who needs who we are…the goodness in us.”

“Maybe in some cases you can make a difference,” Paris stated. “One lady who was tired sat down on a bus and changed things,” speaking of civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

“At one point in my life I thought God hated me because he made me so different,” because he was so much bigger than the other kids, he shared “I would have given up my size. But I would have given up the thing that made me different.

“I didn’t understand that God don’t make no mistakes,” Paris added.

“We have to leave the 99 and go look for the one,” he continued. “This group of people are going to move the dream forward. Look for people you can make a difference with. Sometimes it pays you back. You have to have a paradigm shift, an epiphany.”

He spoke of a 39-year-old 49er fan, who was dying of pancreatic cancer who he met with him for about an hour and a half.

“I prayed for that man as if that was me who had cancer,” Paris shared. “It changed the way I help people.”

“How do we move The Dream forward?” he asked. “First we must all recognize we have a purpose in our life.”

“Can you imagine anyone else than MLK leading the Civil Rights Movement?” Paris asked. “He did it better than anyone else living, dead or yet to be alive.”

“You must go search out people to help,” he continued. “We have a different landscape today. There are people doing terrible things. This year, let us go out and find them and help them as if it is us who we are helping.”

Following Paris’ speech, Diane Gibson Gray, Antioch School Board President and Harper announced the winners of the annual awards.

The 2016 theme was If I Was President of the United States” and there were over 150 entries including written and video submissions, and six winners selected by a committee.

Elected Officials and Reggie Moore’s widow, Dishon Moore, were invited on stage to congratulate the winners.

Mary Slatten – 3rd Place, 6th Grade at Black Diamond Middle School won $100

Maykala Casuga – 2nd Place, 7th Grade at Black Diamond Middle School won $150.

Anastasia Martinez – 1st Place, 7th Grade at Black Diamond Middle School won $200.

Tyler Hamner – 3rd Place, 12th Grade Deer Valley High won $150.

Michele De Los Reyes – 2nd Place, 12th Grade Dozier Libbey Medical High won $200.

Melanie Gill – 1st Place, 12th grade Deer Valley High won $400.

Harper invited Dishon Moore to speak about the Reginald Moore Memorial Scholarship for community service.

“I just want to thank everyone for being here,” she said. “Reggie Moore wanted to start something special. I lost my husband February 4, 2014.”

She thanked Harper and Gibson-Gray.

“I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart and my family thanks you,” Moore continued. “I’m honored with the continuation of this program.”

The Moore award and scholarship, which included a $300 prize, was presented to Savannah Vanderzwan, a junior at Antioch High. She started the Buddy Program at her high school due to the “discrimination that the special needs students are experiencing,” she stated. “It partners two special needs students with one general ed student.”

“She’s in our leadership class,” Harper shared.

Antioch High Principal Louie Rocha shared his thoughts about Savannah.

“First of all what a wonderful event, celebrating our diversity,” he said. “Earlier this year she approached me and asked to start a club.”

Savannah told Rocha about “special needs students who sit alone at lunch.”

“Looking out for that 1 out of the 99. I think savanna embodies that,” he added.

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Bubba Paris speaks

Winners & officials

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