Muir Graduate, Now a Berkeley Student Activist, Rekindles the Light of Peace at City Hall Ceremony

Cameron Turner delivered his \The Good Shepherd Choir filled the Council Chambers with beautiful music.Former State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino attended.Human Relations Commission Nat NehdarThe Good Shepard Choir filled the Council Chambers with beautiful musicDestiny Iwuoma, a John Muir graduate now studying at Berkeley, was keynote speaker.Koda Turner, a John Muir graduate, sang about the power of peace

Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

7:05 am | January 13, 2014

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. For some strange reason 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.”~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A series of speakers and vocalists reminded a group of forty gathered at City Hall on Saturday that all of life is interrelated, calling for us to light the way of peace and erase lines of racial, social, and political injustice.

At the 13th Annual “Rekindling the Light of Peace” hosted by the Pasadena Human Relations Commission in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Coalition, a UC Berkeley student activist challenged Pasadena to take a look at how it can better be living out Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.

“We have to deconstruct the idea that we’re living in a color blind society. When King was organizing the community he was facing more blatant racism. My generation is seeing racism a little different. It’s almost systemic now. We are not living in a colorblind society. Racism exists in every single institution,” Destiny Iwuoma said.

This John Muir High School graduate returns to Pasadena with a critical eye inspired by his new knowledge from his experience as a student at UC Berkeley. Iwuoma will graduate from Berkeley in 2015.

“Pasadena being one of the first cities to desegregate outside of the south, we are a progressive city. We are a city of forward thinking. We must continue to bring in new ideas, new visions and new things we can do to make our city on top,”

So what is his vision? He spent his time in Pasadena speaking with elders about the needs of the city and came up with five areas to address.

1) “Jobs—We have to create Jobs for black and brown youth.”

2) “Law Enforcement—we need to create intentional relationships with law enforcement. We need to develop open communication lines.”

3) “Housing—We need to create affordable public housing for low-income families. We can put more co-operatives in the community to pool resources and have shared ownership of land and build community with each other.”

4) “Education—We need to create a public school K-12 mentoring program. We have to show these youth what they can be because you cannot be something you have never seen.”

5) “You—We need you. We need everyone in order to do this. What do you have to offer the city of Pasadena?”

Iwuoma never stops thinking about his fellow Pasadena peers who are not able to get to higher education institutions. As he studies education, public policy and race relations he seeks to close the opportunity gap for black men and create equitable access to education for all.

“I think we have to ask why do we have to rekindle the light? What happened to the light? Who blew it out?” Iwuoma said. “I’m tired of hearing about the 1960s I’m ready to hear about what the next generation will actually make an impact on the world. Each generation has a mission, fulfill it or betray it. My generation is ready to relight the flame.”

Another speaker noted that complacency is the biggest enemy, but the Human Relations Commission does not allow the conversation about peace to become complacent.

“Our future is in very good hands if Destiny is any indication of the upcoming generation,“ Commissioner Terrie Allen said.

Musical performances by Koda Turner and the Good Sheppard Choir filled the City Chambers with melodious harmonies reigniting the cause for peace.

“For the light of peace to burn brightly within us it must be fueled by a sense of security of knowing no hunger and thirst, an equality of justice and a confidence that our rights, no matter what race, gender, ethnicity, social status, or sexual preference are equal for everyone. Keeping that light shining brightly throughout the years has been no easy task,” Allen said.

Referencing threats that have been made to President Obama, Trayvon Martin, and eroded voting rights in North Carolina, Allen made clear that equality for all has not been reached.

“We must not allow the light of equality and justice to be extinguished. By honoring Dr. King and his teachings, we light that flame. His dreams for a just society where each individual is honored and respected will remain forever relevant,” Allen.

The “Rekindling the Light of Peace” program kicked off a week of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, January 18, the Martin Luther King Coalition will host “Beautification Day,” an event that will put to practice Dr. King’s words by planting trees. The tree planting will be followed by a brief program honoring Dr. King. The event begins at 8:00 a.m. on January 18 at Franklin Elementary School located at 527 West Ventura Street Altadena.

Dreams Become a Reality will be hosted on Monday, January 20, at Robinson Park. Freedom March Video Breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the celebration with music, speakers, dancers and praising will be from 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.