Nearly 100 people, including Mayor Terry Tornek, Councilmember John J. Kennedy, State Senator Anthony Portantino, state Assemblyman Chris Holden, congressional candidate Christian Daly, and Congresswoman Judy Chu, attended the Metropolitan Baptist Church on Sunday as the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance presented its annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
The program was led by Rev. Camille Russell Wooden, senior pastor, Abundant Life Covenant Bible Church. Wooden was introduced by Rev. Dr. Larry E. Campbell, Pasadena First AME Church.
During the sermon, Rev. Dr. Damali Najuma Smith-Pollard, implored the congregation to “keep the struggle going,” and to never give up.
“The struggle is painful, and change is slow,” she said.
Smith-Pollard’s sermon brought the members to their feet over and over again, she dramatically asked them to “show faith in the face of struggle.”
King advocated for non-violence as he advanced the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968, when he was felled by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis.
In 1955, King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), going on to help organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Chu told the congregation Sunday that the “spirit of Martin Luther King” was evoked this past week as congress began the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, and voted on the War Powers act.
“In that room, on a large screen” described Chu, “there were quotes from Martin Luther King.”
Chu said she was particularly moved by the quote, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
“Dr. King continues to guide and inspire us,” Chu said.
The service ended in song as the congregation sang “We Shall Overcome,” which became a protest song and a key anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.