No voices captured the essence of the City of Inglewood’s 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. festivities better than the voices of our youth during the speech contest held on Monday, January 16, 2017. Once again our students swept each category winning the elementary, middle, and high school divisions. Oak Street Elementary student Nathan De Los Santos captured the K-2 category, while Bennett Kew student Bria Anderson won category 3-5 along with Oak Street student Cadence Callahan winning category 6-8, and Morningside High School student Evan Hardin seizing category 9-12. One by one, speaking with such conviction, pride, and humility as they personally connected to this year’s theme of Building Bridges: Embracing our Diversity.
It all began as guests throughout the community filled the Tabernacle auditorium at Faithful Central Bible Church at 9:00 a.m. to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Event Chairman Henry Brown, along with Sabrina Barnes, Inglewood Parks, Recreation and Library Services Director, worked tirelessly with a planning committee to organize this momentous occasion. In January 1984, the City of Inglewood hosted the first Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration at Darby Park that included a memorial service. Since then, the celebration has evolved to include an ecumenical service, youth speech contest and a symbolic march reminiscent of days past.
For over 20 years, Inglewood’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Speech Contest has been the highlight of its annual King Day Celebration. Contestants compete from Inglewood’s public, private and charter schools, as well as local churches. Participants were required to write their own speech based on the topic ‘Be the Change You Want to See.’ Finalists went through a competitive process as they each presented before a panel IUSD Students Take Center Stage at 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration of judges. The final victors had the opportunity to present their winning speeches during the commemorative service.
The morning event had many star studded appearances including Actor Saniyya Sidney who is currently credited with the films “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” and Donnell Turner, who is commonly known for his
role as Curtis Ashford on “General Hospital.” Both served as Grand Marshals for the parade. The Heritage Music Foundation Chorale, founded by Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux filled the air with gospel melodies and heart-felt hymns. Radio Free KJLH On-Air Personality Kevin Nash, was the Master of Ceremonies. His masterful, well-known voice engaged the crowd and kept the purpose of the day at the forefront.
Finally, when everyone thought the morning could not get any better, Mr. Stevie Wonder took the stage with inspiring words and sung his version of the iconic song, ‘Happy Birthday.’ Alongside him was Chairman, Henry Brown who humbly said, “I feel this event has a tremendous impact on students, parents, and the entire community. As we look ahead, we have already begun to plan for next year. Sabrina Barnes, Director of Parks and Recreation, as well as director of the King Day planning committee, added, “This year’s event was a great success. We look forward to partnering again with the District to honor Dr. King’s Legacy while also celebrating our City, community and our kids.”