By HANNAH HATCH
MARTINEZ, Calif. – Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors held their 38th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration and Humanitarian of the Year Awards Tuesday.
The special event was held in downtown Martinez Jan. 19, with “participation” being a major underlying theme of the event. Greeters filled the Board of Supervisors hall, kindly asking attendees to “share their dream” on a Post-it note on their lobby display along with others from Contra Costa County.
The event was to commemorate outstanding citizens from the Contra Costa area whose leadership and humanitarian attributes have made an impact on their communities. Davis Bullock, a 17-year-old from California High School in San Ramon, was nominated 2016 Student Humanitarian of the Year, and Terri Porter, administrator for the Mt. Diablo CARES (Collaborative for Academics, Recreation & Enrichment for Students) after-school program, was awarded 2016 Humanitarian of the Year.
To begin the event, all were asked to rise as Abraham Wilson, former San Ramon mayor, performed the Star-Spangled Banner.
Fay Carol followed on vocals, accompanied by Joe Warner on piano, opening the event with a dynamic performance. In a gospel tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., Carol sang out: “We got to hammer it out … hammer justice … hammer freedom … hammer love.”
Introductions were presented by Philip Kader, Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Chair. A major key Kader noted that was important to concentrate on during this event was, “What can we do for others?”
Philip Arnold, resident and community activist for more than 25 years, was chosen by Kader to be the keynote speaker at the event. The warm and humorous Arnold recognized Martin Luther King Jr. as a leader and important social activist in U.S. history and the American Civil Rights Movement. The two attributes Arnold had heard the most on behalf of Dr. King were “patience” and “perseverance.”
Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was born on Jan. 15, 1929. Through his childhood and adolescent years, age 10-16, MLK lived through the WWII era. MLK was exposed to the realities of concentration camps, internment camps and segregation through domestic terrorism. Although he lived and learned of the harsh realities of the world regarding race, MLK was able to learn harmony and intimacy growing up in the home of his family. MLK’s acts of non-violence steered from his study of the Bible and his Christian faith upbringing. Arnold expressed: “Without patience and perseverance he would have not done all the things he did. Examine YOUR perseverance.”
MLK graduated with his PhD at the age of 25; he became a minister and was the spokesperson for the Montgomery, Alabama, Bus Boycotts of 1955. He read his “I Had a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated April 4 of 1968.
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. as a hero and as a human being, the event brought together Contra Costa County to award and honor others as heroes and humans who have taken on Martin Luther King Jr.’s role in our community. In Arnold’s words: “You are the good news of today, through your patience and perseverance. Do not give up.”
Bullock, the 2016 Student Humanitarian of the Year, is Senior Class president of California High School and captain of the soccer team. Bullock has volunteered with Kids Against Hunger to send meals to children in over 60 countries, built houses in Mexico through his youth group, served as an ambassador for the Wounded Warriors Project and volunteers at City Impact in San Francisco, delivering meals and gifts to people of the Tenderloin District. In January of 2015, Bullock was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. As Bullock was recovering from this, he realized the importance of gratitude. Because of his need of bone marrow, he worked through the organization “Delete Blood Cancer,” to register people who would be willing to donate bone marrow to help others on their own roads to health. Bullock was able to assist 50 people to register as potential donors.
Porter, the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year, started her thank you speech with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others?” Porter followed this question through her role as the administrator for the Mt. Diablo CARES after-school program and creator of the “Visions of Success” program. Through her partnership with Epsilon Beta Boule, part of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and the University of San Francisco, she has given under-served teen students from Contra Costa County support, education and experience that may assist them to a successful future. Porter shows children the possibilities they can achieve in their lives and has the resources to teach children their dreams can become realities. The Visions of Success program is designed to be “motivational, educational and interactive” for middle school to high school students in Contra Costa County. Porter has had guest speakers from the work world, such as an African-American astronaut, a coach from the Golden State Warriors, and the president of the University of San Francisco, speak to the children and expose them to different careers. The program launched in 2008 starting first with young men, and has now grown to young men and women at a count of 100 children. The children have taken field trips to the University of San Francisco as well as trips to the “tech world” of Silicon Valley, visiting and touring the facilities of Yahoo! and Netflix. After the recent “Visions of Success” program’s tour of Netflix, the popular video distribution company contacted the Contra Costa County CARE after-school program, gifting them with $5,000.
Through the acts of perseverance and leadership, these special awarded individuals were able to give their power of encouragement by helping others be brave and keep going.