Antioch resident Velma Wilson to be honored as Contra Costa’s Humanitarian of the Year during 43rd MLK event Jan. 19

Speakers include Antioch resident Iris Archuleta

By John Fout, Community & Media Relations Specialist, Contra Costa County Office of Communications & Media

In 2021, fifty-three years will have passed since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  That sobering reminder will serve as a backdrop to Contra Costa County’s 43rd Annual Commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy. The Board of Supervisors welcomes the public to watch a virtual community celebration on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 11 am.

“Contra Costa County welcomes the public to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and help us honor a Humanitarian and Student Humanitarian of the Year. These honorees serve the residents of Contra Costa with dedication and heart. Together, we will commemorate Dr. King and commit to continuing our work together to address issues of racial injustice and inequality in our communities,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis.

The theme of the event is “Silence is Not an Option.” Countywide recognition will be given to the Adult Humanitarian of the Year, Velma Wilson from Antioch, and the Student Humanitarian of the Year, Kimyatta Newby, a recent graduate of Middle College High School in San Pablo. Their stories of leadership, advocacy, and service have impacted Contra Costa County, its residents and communities, and reflect the spirit of Dr. King’s work and achievements.

This is the second year in a row that an Antioch resident was honored with the adult award. Last year, now-Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker was the recipient. In addition, former Antioch School Board Trustee Walter Ruehlig was honored with the award in 2004.

About Velma Wilson

In her actions, her words, and her example, Velma Wilson lives her life as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called us to live.

Velma is a selfless, tireless volunteer in the community and the county. She has served by leading her community and many organizations to promote and foster diversity, equality, and justice. She organized food distribution, school supply, and other drives in service to our county’s most vulnerable.

Velma has coordinated the annual Antioch MLK Day Celebration, the Antioch Veterans and Memorial Day observances, in addition to many other events. Her leadership skills and creativity bring together local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as the community-at-large.

Her list of leadership and volunteer roles includes serving as the parent and student engagement liaison for Antioch United School District, Vice President of Legislation and Education for the 32nd District PTA, 1st Vice President of East Contra Costa County NAACP, and Community Member for African American Male Achievement Initiative. Local service organizations have also benefitted greatly from her membership and involvement.

Her commitment to the Census 2020 effort led her to become a Census Bureau field supervisor. Her relationships and understanding of Antioch and Contra Costa County helped to ensure that both our homeless and unsheltered populations counted and our hardest-to-reach residents in some of the toughest neighborhoods.


Iris Archuleta

The celebration will feature the voices of inspirational speakers from the community, including Iris Archuleta, Co-founder Emerald HPC International in Antioch, Mike Anderson, former Mayor of Lafayette, Merl Craft, Mayor of Pittsburg, Reverend Phillip Lawson, retired pastor and civil rights activist, and Shanelle Scales-Preston, Pittsburg City Council Member. The program also includes entertainment from the Contra Costa School of Performing Arts.

Iris Archuleta is Co-Founder and Vice-President of Emerald HPC International, LLC and the architect of Emerald’s trademarked, High Performing Communities Framework. She has a degree in Political Science from California State University East Bay and a Law Degree from John F. Kennedy College of Law.

The public can watch the virtual live-stream at or The celebration will also be broadcast live on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) channels, Comcast Cable 27, ATT/U-Verse 99, and WAVE 32. To learn more about the Dr. King Ceremony and past ceremonies, visit in the Community section of Contra Costa County’s website.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Iris Archuleta


Velma Wilson

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