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Hundreds Attend Tribute to King

At an Inglewood event, attendees are urged to heed the slain civil rights leader's dream and 'walk with courage' to achieve their own.

January 15, 2006|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

Of all the speakers at an Inglewood commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, it was a precocious 10-year-old girl who repeatedly brought the audience to its feet.

"I have a dream that violence will stop," fifth-grader Amani Moultrie said at the Faithful Central Bible Church. "Spend time with your children. Shoot math problems at them while you're cruising in your car."

It was just one of the dreams that politicians, pastors and children -- one just 6 years old -- called for at the annual celebration and march in honor of the slain civil rights leader. Despite drizzling rain, the event attracted more than 1,500 people, nearly filling the building.

Playing off King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, keynote speaker the Rev. John J. Hunter urged those in the audience, particularly students, to reach for their own dreams.

"Without dreams, you are dead. Without dreams, you can't grow," said Hunter, a senior pastor at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.

Achieving King's dream of racial equality is still something "we're still working toward," Hunter said.

"If you have any doubt that racism and classism was still alive, Katrina showed you it was still there," Hunter said, referring to the many poor and black people who suffered after the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast last year.

"There are still those in power who believe, 'If you're white, you're right; if you're black, get back.' ... We need to work in spite of them," Hunter said. "We must keep forging ahead.

"None of us can rest on the laurels [of those] who came before us. This is our time, this is our hour," Hunter said.

Grand marshal of the march Marc Brown, who co-anchors the evening news on KABC-TV Channel 7, spoke of how he achieved his own dreams.

He explained that he worked the night shift at a supermarket to pay for college but did not finish school before he got his first on-air job in 1984. He earned his bachelor's degree at USC in 2004.

"It's never too late if you have a goal," Brown said. "Don't give in, and walk with courage."

The misty conditions apparently kept some from joining the procession from the church in Inglewood to Hollywood Park. It typically attracts up to a thousand people, but this time only about 300 participated, said city spokeswoman Hilda Kennedy.

Alfonso Garcia said he had been coming to the event for the last four years because it was important for his children to learn about King.

"They live in this community, so they have to know the culture," said Garcia, who brought his son Chris, 13, and daughter Chelsea, 8.

"Rain or shine," he said of the march, "we'll get through it."

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