The emphasis was on students and the future Monday, as the Pasadena MLK Community Coalition honored Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Robinson Park, the organizations 35th celebration of the fallen civil rights leader.
A host of State and local leaders lined the stage, including Mayor Terry Tornek, Councilmember Tyron Hampton, State Senator Anthony Portantino, and Assemblymember Chris Holden, who, along with representatives from the PUSD, helped to pay tribute to the celebrated civil rights activist.
Students from Pasadena schools and their parents filled the audience.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old. During his lifetime, he energized the nations civil rights struggle and his words have continued to inspire new generations of Americans ever since. The bill to name a holiday for him became Federal law in 1986, almost 20 years after being brought to Congress in 1968, by Senator John Conyers. It became an official national holiday in 2000.
Each of the local elected leaders shared their impressions of the impact of Dr. King.
While Tornek stressed the importance of knowing Kings work, Portantino pointed out the importance of reminding those who grew up in Kings time to remember his message of love and hope.
He reminds us, said Portantino, that its always the right time to do the right thing.
Dr. Robert Miller, 2021 president of the Tournament of Roses, told the audience that King reminds us of the importance of dignity and hope.
2020 Tournament of Roses President Laura Farber was fervent in her praise of Dr. King, and in the importance of voting to make his message heard. She told the audience, particularly the schoolchildren, of her own background, growing up in Argentina, which was gripped by civil war in the 1970s.
We had a Dirty War back then, she said. There was no right to vote. People were taken away from their homes just for their political beliefs. You would be tortured because of the views that you held.
She looked at the students and said, You are the future. Make sure your voice is heard. And heard loudly.
Along with dance and music from the Willard Elementary School School Choir, the event also featured local essay and visual arts contest winners.
Inspired by Kings 1957 quote, Give is the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill, Pasadena elementary, middle and high school contestants were given the theme What would you do if you were given the ballot?
We can dream of a brighter future, said San Rafael Elementary school first place essay winner Ximena Hernandez, a future where no kids are separated from their parents. Give us the vote and we will make a change. Our voices matter.
Violet Blair and Graciela Ramirez, also of San Rafael, took home second and third place honors, respectively.
Lila Stevens of Norma Coombs, Jocelyn Ramirez of Longfellow Elementary, and Anthony Moore of Norma Coombs, were awarded first, second and third prizes in the visual arts category.
In the middle school category , Noah Beubis, Isabella Paz, and Nathan Park, all of Gooden Elementary, won the first, second, and third place prizes in the essay category. Keira Kwan, Lani Mejia, and Nevada Cruz, all of Eliot Arts, won first, second and third in the visual arts category.
In the high school division, Keira Minamizono von Imbior of Marshall Fundamental took first place honors in the essay contest, while Genevieve Harvey of Blair High, and Emily Yung, also of Marshall Fundamental, took second and third place, respectively.
Emma Tschida, Kristal Mae Faeldonea, and Makenna Walker, all of Blair High School, won first, second and third place, respectively.
All of the award winners were awarded gifts and recognition from the MLK Committee, as well as the elected officials.